Were you not entertained?
Kurt Busch took his horse to the old down road and rode it ’till he couldn’t no more (I’m sorry, I had to) in the Bluegrass State and beat his younger brother Kyle Busch in a thrilling overtime restart at Kentucky Speedway. The win was Busch’s first of 2019 for him and Chip Ganassi Racing, 31st of his career andÂ first for Chevrolet at the Sparta, Kentucky 1.5-mile oval.
Here’s what went down this weekend in the racing world.
It came down to a two lap, overtime shootout between what weÂ thoughtÂ would be Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. But when the defending champion’s No. 22 got a sub-par restart, that allowed Kurt Busch’s No. 1 to get a good launch on the outside lane and get to the No. 18’s right rear quarter panel.
And as they say, the rest was history.
That was nuts!
â NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 14, 2019
â NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 14, 2019
“As we drove down into Turn 3 on the last lap, I just stared straight at his door,” Kurt said of his brother. “I could see the No.Â 18 to my left and I never lifted until I heard him lift, and then I’m like, wait a minute, I’ve got to still miss the wall.Â And he gave me just enough room, as a true racer would or as my little brother would.Â But I’m really proud of the way that we finished this race 1-2, put on one hell of a show, one of those old-school type races where it’s two guys duking it out.”
“Just happened to be brothers, different manufacturers,” he said.Â “But this one, I can’t wait to go watch the video of and tell people about it and show the sport of NASCAR and the production and the pride that everybody has to try to get to Victory Lane was shown in those last few laps.”
With the advent of the new “win and you’re win” playoff format introduced prior to the 2014 season, the long-stated “good points day” type of race became a thing of the past … or did it?
With the advent of stages prior to the start of the 2017 season, points racing and points in general became a bit more important. Sure, winning still is the end all be all at the end of the day. But for those drivers who aren’t the Joe Gibbs Racing’s and Team Penske’s of the world, A.K.A. winning week in and week out, stage points and scoring points in general are just as important as ever.
Especially on the bubble, as NASCAR.com’s Terrin Waack exemplified prior to Kentucky, comparing William Byron and Clint Bowyer’s recent weeks.
I feel like a Blue’s Clues character with my handy-dandy notebook, but that won’t stop me.
Check out the difference between @WilliamByron & @ClintBowyer in last 7 races. Points CAN punch a ticket into the playoff. A win GUARANTEES it. Only 8 races left.https://t.co/zHdbbWbNYY pic.twitter.com/z6uJ3p1FCW
â Terrin Waack (@terrinvictoria) July 12, 2019
Partially due to Byron’s new crew chief and seven-time champion Chad Knaus, the No. 24 seems to be on his way to qualifying for the playoffs and possibly earning his first victory in what has been a rapid ascent to NASCAR’s top series. Byron, however, was in position to challenge for the victory but was penalized for a restart violation, ironically against Bowyer.
William Byron got penalized for a restart violation despite not beating Bowyer to the start of the restart zone and getting pushed by Aric Almirola out of the restart zone.
I get that Byron shouldnât have tried to guess on Bowyer, but he tried to rectify it and got pushed. pic.twitter.com/Ad4wQjvcsY
â Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) July 14, 2019
Bowyer came home sixth, a solid run in a summer stretch that has been marred by a lack of points and finishes for the No. 14 camp.
Believe it or not, Kentucky marked the final 1.5-mile track in the regular season. From here on out until the playoffs, New Hampshire (one mile), Pocono (2.5 miles), Watkins Glen (road course), Michigan (twoÂ miles), Bristol (half-mile), Darlington (1.3 miles) and Indianapolis (2.5 miles) make up the next stretch of races.
With only seven events remaining before the playoffs are set, those below the cut line will become more aggressive on track andÂ with strategy on pit road.
Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard currently sit below the cut line, while Erik Jones occupies the final spot on the heels of his third-place finish at Kentucky. Seven-time championÂ Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer andÂ Kyle Larson narrowly are in the clear–for now.
This upcoming weekend, NASCAR travels to The Magic MileÂ and New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayÂ for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, scheduled to go green on Sunday afternoonÂ (July 21) at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.