Kyle Busch held off his brother Kurt Busch to win his series-leading third race of the season at Bristol on Sunday. The win is Busch’s eighth at the track — which leads all active drivers — and third in his past four races there.
Busch now has 54 NASCAR Cup Series wins and 204 in all three major series. He was the Vegas favorite to win at Bristol at 3-to-1 odds and the highest-priced driver in DraftKings at $12,900.Â
This win wasn’t easy for Busch, who spun right after the race started. He was able to rebound in Stage 1 and work his way back into the top 10 before it’s conclusion. At the end of the race, Busch elected to stay out with 20 to go while a handful of the leaders opted for tires. It proved to be the right decision.Â
Ty Dillon collected his first career stage win, battling Clint Bowyer at the end of Stage 1 en route to a green-and-white checkered. Dillon and Bowyer made contact, but it was the No. 13 that saw its nose cross the start-finish line just a hair before Bowyer’s.Â
Joey Logano dominated Stage 2, leading 106 laps ahead of his Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Logano had no issues cruising to his third stage win of the season, putting him one behind Kyle Busch for the series lead.Â
Kevin Harvick suffered a major setback before the race even started. The No. 4 failed inspection three times, which sent Harvick to the rear of the field for the start of the race where he then had to serve a pass-through penalty once the race went green. Harvick’s engineer was also ejected as a result of the failed inspections.
Harvick wasn’t the only one in trouble early. Almost immediately after Chase Elliott led the field to green, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into the back of Kyle Busch and sent him spinning. Prior to that, Aric Almirola made contact with William Byron which caused mechanical damage to the No. 10 that would knock him out of the race for good.
Despite getting back on track quickly, Stenhouse’s hood was raised up a little too high for NASCAR’s liking which caused him to get black flagged. He brought the No. 17 down pit road for further repairs that essentially knocked him out of contention for the day.
Things settled down after that as Elliott led 39 laps however once he made his way into lapped traffic he encountered Ryan Preece, who cut a tire in his backup car and went spinning. Elliott slammed on the brakes, but Corey LaJoie got into his rear bumper and spun the No. 9 out. Fortunately for Elliott, he was able to keep it off the wall and sustained minimal damage. To add insult to injury, Preece was penalized for speeding on entry to pit road alongside Bubba Wallace.
Denny Hamlin stayed out under yellow and led the field to green ahead of his teammate Erik Jones. The No. 20 took the lead from Hamlin several laps later. After leading 10 laps, Jones felt a vibration and brought his car down pit road under green for a loose wheel forfeiting the lead to Ryan Blaney.
Harvick and Kyle Larson also suffered loose wheels and had to pit early as well. Larson’s team was busted for an uncontrolled tire and had to serve a damming pass through. Harvick’s stop put him four laps down.
Clint Bowyer challenged Blaney for the lead with less than 15 laps go to as Kyle Busch recovered from the early setback and moved into the top 10. Bowyer took the lead from Blaney with eight laps to go when — ironically — the No. 8 car of Daniel Hemric went spinning to bring out the caution.
Blaney and the Penske cars elected to come down pit road as opposed to staying out for stage points. While four of the top five cars pit, Bowyer chose to stay out. Unfortunately for Bowyer, so did Ty Dillon, who outraced him in a shootout at the end of the stage and collected the green-and-white checkered.
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano led the field to green to begin Stage 2 and it was the No. 2 that took the early lead. Keselowski ran 15 laps out front before turning the lead over to Logano.
Logano nicely led a clean 69 laps before Matt Tifft went spinning and brought out the first caution of the stage. Tifft was then penalized for an uncontrolled tire when making his pit stop under yellow.
Chase Elliott had fallen off the lead lap just prior to Tifft’s spin and was awarded the free pass under yellow. Logano won the race off pit road ahead of Keselowski and led the group back to green. Logano had no problem leading the way after that, amassing 106 total laps led in Stage 2 en route to the green-and-white checkered flag.
Martin Truex Jr. was riding inside the top 10 for most of the stage, however was forced to bring his car down pit road before the stage’s conclusion with reports of a loose wheel. This put the No. 19 multiple laps down heading into the Final Stage.Â
Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson were both penalized between stages for speeding on pit road and were forced to start the Final Stage from the rear. Brad Keselowski also suffered a setback between stages, pitting multiple times with reports of a loose wheel and forfeiting third position.
Blaney led the field back to green ahead of Logano and Kyle Busch. They didn’t stay green for long though, as NASCAR issued a debris caution 20 laps into the stage. The debris appeared to come off of Truex’s No. 19. It was bad news for Suarez under caution again, this time pitting outside his box and also having an uncontrolled tire drawing separate penalties.
The No. 12 team held serve under yellow and restarted from the lead. Blaney took advantage of clean air for a while before giving the lead back to Logano with less than 150 to go. Just as Bowyer took the lead from Logano, NASCAR threw the caution flag for debris in Turn 2.
After a long green flag run, most of the field pit under yellow. Bowyer won the race off pit road ahead of Kyle Busch, who gained two positions. Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Bubba Wallace were all penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear.
On the restart, Kyle Busch instantly look the lead from Bowyer. Busch led 25 laps before Bowyer passed the No. 18 while navigating through lapped traffic. Just after Bowyer reclaimed the top spot, Kyle Larson got into the rear bumper of Bayley Currey, went high and collected William Byron in the process. This brought out the caution flag.
Denny Hamlin took two tires and won the race off pit road ahead of Kyle Busch and Bowyer. Unfortunately for Hamlin, he was a little too fast. The No. 11 was dinged for speeding and had to restart from the rear. This allowed Kyle Busch to lead the field back to green.
Almost simultaneously, with 69 laps to go, Bowyer and Elliott both hit the wall. It appeared the No. 14 cut a tire before going up the racetrack after making contact with Logano. Elliott had previously gotten into the rear of Ryan Newman causing him damage as well. Busch was the leader at the time of the caution.
Newman was penalized under yellow for improper fueling and had to restart from the rear. Kyle Busch brought the field back to green with 61 laps to go. It didn’t take long for Brad Keselowski to get involved, taking the lead away from the No. 18 around 50 to go.
Chris Buescher was having a strong run inside the top 10 for most of the day, however caught a loose wheel in the late stages of the race and had to come down pit road, ruining what could have been a top five performance.
Shortly after that, Keselowski gave the lead back to Logano with less than 30 to go. A few laps later, Kyle Larson hit the wall and brought out the caution. This allowed Kevin Harvick to get the free pass and make the lead lap for the first time in 480 laps.Â
Kyle and Kurt Busch stayed out while Keselowski, Bowyer, Logano and Blaney opted to get tires, setting up an interesting restart with 15 to go. Keselowski was called to pit road for failing to following directions on the restart on where to line up.Â
Kyle Busch held the lead on the restart and didn’t look back. He drove away from the field en route to his third win of the season.Â
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