NASCAR Cup Series

Kurt Busch wins brother battle in Quaker State 400

3 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Kurt and Kyle Busch are among the top sibling duos in NASCAR Cup Series history, and the racing deities decided in favour of the elder Kurt in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  The two battled each other throughout the final stage, but Kurt, with some help from Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Ross Chastain, was able to get it done and complete the Busch 1–2 finish.

Sunday’s race, the last on the current Atlanta configuration before it is redesigned ahead of the 2022 season, was dominated by the brothers as they led a combined 235 of 260 laps, with Kurt responsible for 144. Georgia native and pole-sitter Chase Elliott was the only non-Busch to lead double-digit laps as he had thirteen to begin the day.

Kyle began the Busch run when he took the lead from Elliott on lap 14 and went on to win the first stage ahead of Kurt, Alex BowmanKyle LarsonJoey LoganoWilliam ByronMartin Truex Jr. (who started at the back after failing pre-race inspection twice), and Kevin Harvick. The lone incident of the stage came on lap 32 when Cody Ware got loose in turn two while running four-abreast with Anthony AlfredoRicky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suárez; Stenhouse and Suárez then made contact and spun into the inside wall on the backstretch, with Alfredo squeezing by to escape damage.

The older Busch dominated the second stage, only briefly surrendering the lead to Aric Almirola; as Almirola led, reports of rain hit the track but did not result in a red flag. Ironically, one would occur anyway at the end of the stage when the aging track surface, which had not been replaced since 1997 and was only changing in 2022 with the reconfiguration, broke off on the frontstretch and a delay was needed to fill it back in. After an approximately twenty-minute pause that incidentally coincided with the full duration of the Euro 2020 Final’s penalty kick shootout, the segment ended under yellow as Kurt took the stage win ahead of Kyle, Bowman, Larson, Denny HamlinTyler ReddickRyan BlaneyBrad KeselowskiAustin Dillon, and Truex.

Stenhouse became the race’s lone retirement when he exited with a suspension failure shortly after the final stage began. Kurt and Kyle traded the lead throughout the segment before the two’s duel encountered lapped traffic; one of these cars was Kurt’s team-mate Chastain, who committed to the high line on lap 236 and blocked Kyle’s progress on Kurt. Kyle was miffed at Chastain’s action, saying in a post-race interview that it “shows you what kind of driver he is.”

In front of him, Kurt pulled away to score his thirty-third career win, first of 2021 to lock a playoff spot, and first at Atlanta since 2010. It is also Chip Ganassi’s first win since announcing in June that he would sell the team to Trackhouse Racing Team at the end of the year.

“Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the top tracks for all the drivers based off of how we’re able to slide the car through the corners and choose which lane we want to race in,” said Busch, as the winner of the final race with Atlanta’s current design. “Like a raceability factor, Atlanta Motor Speedway was always at the top of the list. I came to respect her surface and to ask her for the right amount of grip today, and I could feel it. I could feel she was helping me pull through and come out on top. I really wanted to win this last race on the old surface. I was pushing hard, and really happy for our GearWrench team to win this last race here.

“It’s going to go through a facelift, going to have a lot of new feel and a lot of new action next year, but this was the last little bit of the old school, and I’m glad an older guy won the race today.”

Kyle finished runner-up for the brothers’ fourth 1–2 finish. The younger Busch won the first two instances at Sonoma in 2015 and 2019 Bristol spring, while Kurt topped Kyle at Atlanta and Kentucky in 2019.

Race results

181Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet260Running
2218Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota260Running
3519Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota260Running
41748Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet260Running
51512Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord260Running
678Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet260Running
719Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet260Running
8420Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingChevrolet260Running
91221Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord260Running
10142Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord260Running
11214Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord260Running
12133Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet260Running
13311Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota260Running
142423Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota260Running
151114Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord260Running
161817Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord260Running
172341Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord260Running
1865Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet260Running
191022Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord259Running
201924William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet259Running
21942Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet259Running
22267Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet258Running
232010Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord258Running
242243Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet258Running
253437Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet258Running
263238Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord257Running
272534Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord256Running
28296Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord256Running
292877Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet255Running
303678B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord254Running
313753Garrett Smithley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet253Running
323315Bayley Currey*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet253Running
333151Cody Ware*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet253Running
343052Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord248Running
353500Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet248Running
362799Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet243Running
371647Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet178Suspension
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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