Kurt Busch won the Quaker State 400 in overtime at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night after a thrilling overtime battle with younger brother, Kyle Busch, to earn his first victory of the 2019 season.
It appeared that Joey Logano might run away with the race win in overtime but a late race caution changed everything. With six laps to go Bubba Wallace spun in Turn 1 and set up a late race overtime restart.
Busch passed Logano on the restart and set his sight on his brother. During the last half lap, the two brothers dueled for the win. Kurt Busch was able to beat him to the finish line by inches after almost wrecking each other for the win. It was his first victory for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“That was epic!” Kurt Busch said to PRN Radio in his post-race interview. “I was hoping we would get a shot, one more restart. I was just hoping that it would go our way and get that yellow. Then my little brother (Kyle Busch), the best guy in the world to go racing against. He’s been winning a ton, I couldn’t be happier for him and where he’s gone in his career.”
“That duel in Turn 3 and 4, and who was going to lift first, what’s going to happen, he gave me just enough on the outside like a true racer would. We made it work and both could have clobbered each other, and third place (Erik Jones) could have won, but I’m glad I came out on top with my Monster Energy Chevrolet. To get this team (the win), there’s a ton of first-time winners in victory lane.”
Daniel Suarez started on the pole, his first of the season and his first since Pocono of 2018.
The stages were broken up into 80/80/107 laps to make up the 267-lap race at Kentucky Speedway.
There was action before the race started, as fuel was accidentally laid down before the start of the race. Therefore, speedy dry was put down on top of the PJ1 that was also applied again in the morning hours.
The first half of the race was mainly clean and green, and what you would expect at a 1.5-mile track. There were some incidents, including one where Brad Keselowski reported “something is audibly off,” a possible tire vibration. The first caution of the race flew on Lap 47 for Chase Elliott’s car, as he blew a right front tire and left debris all over the track.
Another yellow flew on Lap 55 for Corey Lajoie, who spun off Turn 4 but wound up not hitting the wall. Kurt Busch would lead for the first time right before the caution by taking the lead on Lap 53. Before Busch could go on to win Stage 1, the caution flew once more on Lap 64 for Landon Cassill and Bayley Currey who both spun in Turn 2. Both drivers would escape without any major damage.
Despite the yellow, Kurt Busch would hang on to the lead and win the first stage after leading 30 laps.
Suarez led the first 49 laps, before finishing 14th in Stage 1. Also during the stage, Keselowski had a possible valve spring issue.
Stage 2 saw a lot of different strategies take place, with drivers taking only two tires or just fuel in order to get that much-needed track position.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would take advantage of that track position by staying out and taking the lead at the beginning of Stage 2. Stenhouse led for 21 laps until Kyle Busch took the lead on Lap 104. Another strategy call was made by Suarez’s pit crew on Lap 108 by pitting. After pitting, Suarez was told he could make it to the end of the stage without stopping again.
However, that was all thrown out the window as he would be caught speeding on pit road. Other pit stops would be made for those who stayed out. Logano pitted on Lap 120 for a possible vibration but looked as though it was all clear after the pit stop.
Later in the stage, Austin Dillon learned he was going to have to change the battery at the end of Stage 2. Dillon did so and it cost him a good finish. He wound up 35th, 29 laps down.
More issues appeared to rise for Elliott’s crew who pitted from 22nd. Elliott received an uncontrolled tire penalty, which was later overturned by NASCAR.
The race leader Kyle Busch pitted on Lap 149 from the lead. Despite pitting, Busch would remain the leader. Other drivers were caught with penalties, however. Daniel Hemric had a penalty for removing a jack from his pit box.
Kyle Busch would maintain the lead as pit stops cycled through and go on to win the second stage.
The third and final stage went green with 101 laps to go and saw a lot of action.
Kurt Busch would be back up front for the restart. There were some great battles going on which allowed Kyle Busch to close in once again.
Although, as cautions breed cautions, another one was seen as the No. 48 car of Jimmie Johnson was loose and snapped around, hitting the wall off Turn 2 on Lap 179. It would be the sixth caution of the night.
More interesting items developed on the next restart, as William Byron was cited by NASCAR for a restart violation. Byron would wind up serving a stop and go penalty.
Pit stops began to take place shortly after with 54 to go. Once Clint Bowyer passed Kurt Busch for the lead, Busch pitted in hopes of being the race leader once stops cycled out. Bowyer then pitted as well, but Busch exited just ahead of him. Meaning, if the stops cycled out as they normally do, Busch would be the new race leader.
However, other drivers were trying to outsmart each other during the final laps of the race. Kyle Busch would lead the next 13 laps before pitting. Hamlin then led five laps before pitting, Newman for 15 laps until he ran out of gas and Suarez led three laps until Lap 248.
While all this was going on, Kyle Busch and Logano were battling each other for a potential race win as they would be the new leaders once stops cycled out. Both raced each other hard for the lead and nearly wrecked each other while doing it. Logano took the lead with just 18 laps to go.
In what looked liked it was going to be the Joey Logano show, a late race yellow ended his hopes with six laps to go. This set up a NASCAR overtime finish with Logano and Kyle Busch on the front row. Older brother Kurt Busch would sit right lurking close behind.
As the race restarted, Logano got shuffled back in the middle as Kurt Busch and Erik Jones went three wide on the leaders. Busch was on the high line and got around Logano and Kyle Busch.
Both brothers would duel it out all the way to the finish line, even touching each other, leaving Kurt Busch with some tire smoke from a fender rub. In the end, it was older brother Kurt Busch barely beating his younger brother at the line by .076 seconds.
With this win, he has won with every car owner he has driven for in the series.
“I felt the connection with Chip (Ganassi, Team Owner) was perfect right away,” Busch added in his interview with PRN. “I mean, it was a 30-minute conversation, we knocked out a contract and then we went racing. And then, it’s a matter of making all the right steps to make this No. 1 car a winner. Tonight, we had luck on our side, positioned ourselves with speed and handling was there.”
With the future a little uncertain for Busch by having just a one year contract, he is still not sure what next season holds for him, but indicated that he’s not retiring anytime soon.
“It’s a matter of getting going now,” the 2004 champion said. “We got that win and now the second half is in front of us, and it’s a matter of everything coming together, you know? The manufacture, the sponsor, the team owner and the driver. I thought this year might be the last, but we’re having so much fun, we’ll see how things go.”
With this win, Kurt Busch is now locked into the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Busch is currently seeded seventh in the Playoff standings.
It was Busch’s first win of the season, his first since the Bristol night race last August and the 31st of his career. He led four times for 41 laps and won Stage 1.
There were seven cautions for 35 laps with 10 leaders among 15 lead changes.
1. Kyle Busch, Four wins
2. Martin Truex Jr, Four wins
3. Brad Keselowski, Three wins
4. Joey Logano, Two wins, Current regular standings points leader
5. Denny Hamlin, Two wins
6. Chase Elliott, One win
7. Kurt Busch, One win
8. Alex Bowman, One win
9. Kevin Harvick -101
10. Aric Almirola, -204
11. Ryan Blaney, -211
12. William Byron, -229
13. Kyle Larson, -235, +40 points in
14. Clint Bowyer, -265, +10 points in
15. Jimmie Johnson, -265, +10 points in
16. Erik Jones, -273, +2 points in
Outside looking in
17. Ryan Newman, Two points out
18. Daniel Suarez, Two points out
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr, 46 points out
Up Next: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continues their summer stretch of races by heading to the Northeast for race No. 20 of the 2019 season. There are only seven races left until the Playoffs began.