Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway was called the, wait for it, Buschy McBusch Race 400. How fitting is it that Kyle Busch would be the winner?
The race ran relatively clean for the first two stages before four cautions and tyre-related drama occurred in the final segment. In overtime, Busch ran away to win on his thirty-sixth birthday, ironically beating the Busch-sponsored car of Kevin Harvick.
Last week’s winner Brad Keselowski started on the pole ahead of William Byron, while Ross Chastain and Erik Jones were sent to the rear after failing inspection twice and Anthony Alfredo for unapproved adjustments. Matt Mills started last in his maiden Cup start.
Stages #1 and 2
As Keselowski led the way, Chastain and Kyle Larson—who started thirty-second after his Talladega race ended with a last-place finish—began their ascent through the field. At the competition caution on lap 25, Larson was already in seventh and Chastain fourteenth. Ryan Newman was black flagged during pit stops for pulling out the right-rear side skirt too much, an illegal body modification; Keselowski suffered a similar penalty at Pocono in 2016.
The race resumed on lap 31 as Keselowski continued to lead. Despite hitting the wall, Larson completed his climb when he took the lead on lap 74, only for Busch to pass him on lap 77 and take the stage win three laps later. Tyler Reddick, Keselowski, Byron, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, and Christopher Bell rounded out the top ten.
Larson won the race off pit road to lead the field to green on lap 88. After thirty laps of racing, the green-flag pit cycle began, during which Cody Ware spun into the pits but no caution was called. Ware and Quin Houff were respectively penalised for a commitment line violation and removing equipment from his pit box, and the latter received another infraction when his crew serviced his car while he served his penalty. Larson pitted on lap 121 and surrendered the lead to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse led twenty-three laps before pitting and Larson re-assumed the top position. With Busch a distant second, Larson took the second stage victory. Hamlin, Keselowski, Elliott, Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Reddick, Bell, and Harvick also recorded stage points.
The final stage commenced on lap 168 with an all-Kyle front row. As the race entered the double-digits-to-go mark, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, and Alex Bowman all hit the wall, prompting Bowman to pit.
Larson continued to lead before the next stops under green began, with the leader doing so on lap 212. Chris Buescher inherited the lead as a result, while Reddick and Aric Almirola suffered uncontrolled tyre penalties on their stops.
In a bizarre twist, a tyre from Reddick’s car ended up in the infield, only for NASCAR to remain mum before finally throwing the yellow flag on lap 229 at the completion of the pit cycle. The lengthy delay in ordering the caution, which lasted over ten laps, resulted in Buescher—who had not pitted—falling back and needing the wave around.
“Explanation from NASCAR’s view on the tire caution: The tire was far enough away from the racing surface where they felt comfortable completing the pit stop sequence before retrieving the tire,” tweeted The Athletic‘s Jeff Gluck. “But ultimately they still had to go get it.”
More tyre drama ensued when Harvick was penalised for an uncontrolled tyre on his stop. The restart came on lap 235 as Larson began battling with Hamlin for the lead. The latter was the next tyre victim when the right-front went down on lap 244 and sent him into the turn one wall.
Larson and Busch led the field to the lap 250 green flag. Two laps in, Stenhouse got loose in turn two and climbed up into Austin Cindric, squeezing him into the wall before spinning down the track and through the apron.
Another restart came with ten laps remaining as Busch took off. However, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate inadvertently delivered a killing blow to JTG Daugherty Racing when he spun after a bump from behind by Daniel Suárez; Stenhouse was unable to avoid Bell as he slid down the track, and the resulting impact shot Bell back up and into Preece.
After much of the remaining laps were run under caution, NASCAR elected to switch to overtime conditions.
Busch and Blaney, respectively with Truex and Larson behind them, paced the grid to the green. Larson provided too strong of a push that nearly spun Blaney; although both drivers avoided a wreck, the contact knocked them out of race contention as Busch pulled away.
Harvick moved up to second on the final lap but he could not catch Busch as he scored his first win of the year and fifty-eighth of his Cup career.
“We had a strong car,” Busch said. “We ran up front all day. Dropping the green flag, we were heading towards the front, so that was definitely a confidence booster, and just kept trying to make little adjustments to the car all day long in order to get it to where we wanted it there closer towards the end, and nothing was really hitting on it and making it better, but the final two adjustments definitely were a positive for us. Didn’t necessarily take us from a third-place car to a winning car, but all the restarts and circumstances did, and got us in the right position when we needed it.”
Busch is one of three drivers to win a Cup points race on their birthday, alongside Cale Yarborough and Matt Kenseth, but the only one to have multiple such victories as he won at Richmond on 2 May 2009. It is also his first win at Kansas since 2016 and completes a weekend sweep as he won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series event. After the race, brother Kurt—who finished fifteenth—surprised him with a mariachi band at the airport.
Their tangle sank Larson and Blaney to nineteenth and twenty-first, respectively. It is a frustrating end for Larson, who led a race-high 132 of 267 laps.
“My plan was just to push (Blaney) as hard as I could and try and be with him on the backstretch to shove him and hopefully get them guys racing in front of me or potentially get inside or outside for the lead somehow,” explained Larson. “I had just planned on pushing him really hard, and obviously I did that and got him sideways and ended up getting us both in the wall. Probably should have just laid off once I got to the corner and hopefully a run came to where I could get to his back bumper on the backstretch. Hate that I screwed that up and cost ourselves a good finish.”
Further down the running order, Newman finished fourteenth in his 700th career Cup start, while Bowman was two places behind in his 200th. Mills stayed out of trouble for the entire race and finished his début in thirty-eighth.
|1||9||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||267||Running|
|2||4||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||267||Running|
|3||1||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||267||Running|
|4||5||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||267||Running|
|5||17||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|6||15||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||267||Running|
|7||11||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|8||16||17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||267||Running|
|9||2||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|10||6||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|11||21||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|12||20||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||267||Running|
|13||3||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||267||Running|
|14||24||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|15||28||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|16||14||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||267||Running|
|17||29||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||267||Running|
|18||25||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|19||32||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||267||Running|
|20||19||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||267||Running|
|21||7||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||267||Running|
|22||38||33||Austin Cindric*||Team Penske||Ford||267||Running|
|23||22||38||Anthony Alfredo||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||266||Running|
|24||10||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||266||Running|
|25||27||43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||266||Running|
|26||13||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||266||Running|
|27||26||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||265||Running|
|28||8||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||265||Running|
|29||18||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||264||Running|
|30||31||77||Justin Haley*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||263||Running|
|31||30||78||B.J. McLeod*||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||260||Running|
|32||12||37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||259||Accident|
|33||36||53||Garrett Smithley*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||259||Running|
|34||23||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||258||Accident|
|35||35||15||Joey Gase*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||258||Running|
|36||33||51||Cody Ware*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||257||Running|
|37||34||00||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet||256||Running|
|38||39||55||Matt Mills*||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Ford||255||Running|
|39||37||52||Josh Bilicki||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||250||Running|
* – Ineligible for Cup points