Kyle Busch Bowls Winning Strike at Kansas

by Tucker White On Sat, May. 07, 2016

Kyle Busch comes across the line to score the victory in Kansas. Photo: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

While the yellow brick road didn’t lead to the Emerald City tonight, it did lead Kyle Busch to victory lane in America’s heartland.

The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led 69 laps and was up front when it counted to take the checkered flag in the 400 at Kansas Speedway. It’s his 37th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series, his third of the season and his first at Kansas.

“This is pretty big – man, there’s been a lot of rough days here at Kansas, that’s for sure,” Busch said. “A lot of good ones too, but I just can’t say enough about this team and everyone on this M&M’s Camry, this thing was awesome tonight. At the beginning and middle part of the race we weren’t great, but Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the guys, they just kept working on it. The 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was probably the fastest car, but we kept ourselves in the game. It was pretty impressive.”

Kevin Harvick finished second in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet while Kurt Busch rounded out the podium in his No. 41 SHR Chevrolet.

“For whatever reason I got tight, I hit a big piece of debris down there about six or seven laps into the run,” Harvick said of those final laps chasing down Kyle Busch. “From that point on I just got really tight…We overhauled this thing this morning to try to get it close. They did a great job.”

“We battled hard,” Busch said of his night. “I was trying to find all the different lines on the track to find speed. We did a lot of things good and to win you’ve got to be great. We are right there, we are knocking on the door, but thanks to Haas Automation, Monster Energy, Chevrolet, everybody at Stewart-Haas it’s a great second and third place finish. We always want to win and we have been doing really good with this Tony Gibson (crew chief) led team.”

Matt Kenseth led three laps on his way to a fourth-place finish in his No. 20 JGR Toyota.

“It’s our best finish of the year so that’s the bright side,” Kenseth said. “I’m sort of happy for Kyle (Busch) and Adam (Stevens, 18 crew chief), but seriously happy for everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). Martin (Truex Jr.) had them covered and I don’t know what happened to him in the pits or whatever. We were about a second to fourth-place car most of the day. I thought we were as good as the 18 (Busch) if we could have had the position, but it was tough to stick on that bottom. I tried something different there to try to lay back and get the pass, but once they were single file I couldn’t go get them. We were just a little off, but these guys had great pit stops and great adjustments and we seem to be getting closer.”

Ryan Blaney was the highest finishing rookie as he rounded out the top-five in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

“We started off the race really, really good, and I thought that’s when we were the strongest – when the sun was up and the track was a little bit hotter,” Blaney said. “We were really strong and then as the night came and it cooled off a little bit, we lost a little bit of speed. I felt like everyone kind of gained grip and got better and we lost a little bit. It took us a while to try to get that back. We got it closer towards the end there, but it was still a decent finish for us. We got some spots with that little accident, but we were up there all day. It was just a good day for us, a good night and something to build off of for sure.”

Austin Dillon finished sixth in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Ryan Newman finished seventh in his No. 31 RCR Chevrolet followed by AJ Allmendinger who finished eighth in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet. Chase Elliott finished ninth in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10 in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford.

“It was a long night,” Keselowski said. “We had so much long run speed, but weren’t where we wanted to be on the short runs, so we would kind of lose track position and then gain it back at the end. We kind of clawed our way up into that fifth to 10th range and stalled out there a couple times. With about 30 to go we made a great strategy call that got us up to fourth with fresh tires, and it looked like we were gonna have a shot to give Kyle a run for the race win and kind of got caught up there in turn three battling for second, so that kind of put us in the back. We drove back up to 10th in the last 20 laps from 17th or whatever, so it was up and down.”

Martin Truex Jr., who led race-high of 172 laps, had a loose wheel on his final stop and finished a disappointing 14th.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Truex said on the loose wheel. “Went around (turns) one and two and I was like, ‘Wheels loose.’ I kept telling myself that maybe it’s not me, maybe it’s just shaking because it has tape on it or something stupid. It was loose and I knew it right away. Frustrating, but that’s how it goes.”

The race lasted two hours, 49 minutes and 20 seconds at an average speed of 141.909 mph. There were 16 lead changes among 10 different drivers and six cautions for 30 laps.

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