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Using The Bristles At Bristol: Busch Sweeps Up

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 20 2017

Kyle Busch completed the Bristol sweep Saturday night, winning the NASCAR Cup Series race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. – There’s only one word to describe Kyle Busch this month at Bristol Motor Speedway – unstoppable.

In a four-day period at the tough, half-mile track, Busch won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. It was the second time he’s accomplished the feat, first executing the sweep in 2010. He’s been close on numerous occasions, winning two of the three races four different times. This year, however, there was no question about the 32-year-old Las Vegas native’s domination. He won every stage in the three races except the second one in Saturday’s night’s Cup Race. That went to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth.

Busch also led 451 of the 1,003 laps that comprised the three races.

Across the three series, Busch now possesses 180 victories. His 40 Cup wins tie him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin. At Bristol, he’s visited victory lane 20 times – six in Cup, nine in Xfinity and five in truck. It’s accomplishments that have left Busch smiling and in a jovial mood towards those who boo him.

“There was this guy that was at one of my hospitality appearances today (outside the Toyota hospitality gate in the Fan Zone),” Busch said. “He was giving me the bird the whole time. Yeah, I know I’m No. 1. I’ve been No. 1 the past two nights. He gave me two. You know what? You’re already solidifying what I already know.

“I’m sure they’re still booing, whining and crying all the way home tonight. They’re driving home mad, so people be careful.”

Even though Busch was jubilant and relishing his “villain role” in the sport after acquiring Saturday’s victory, he still admitted he was exhausted due to the tough battle he had with runner-up Erik Jones.

“Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” said Busch, who discovered Jones at the Snowball Derby and introduced him to the truck series as a Kyle Busch Motorsports driver in 2013. “My tongue was hanging out and my arms felt like Jello. I was concerned Erik was going to run us back down.

“I love Erik Jones. He’s a phenomenal talent and a great race car driver. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing I found him or a bad thing I found him because one of these days I’m going to lose to him and I’m not going to be thrilled, but I’m still going to congratulate him. I thought today was actually going to be that day.”

So did Jones as he led nine times for 260 laps in the 500-lap race that was slowed by eight caution flags for 53 laps. However, he eventually had to settle for second, 1.422 seconds behind Busch.  

“This was the first shot that I really had to come really close to it (victory) in the Cup Series,” Jones said. “You don’t want to sound like you’re whining or being a sore loser by saying it sucks to run second, but it’s a bummer. It hurts.

“We led the most laps and didn’t win the race. Hopefully, that gives myself a lesson and everybody a lesson of what it really takes to win these races. Obviously, they’re not easy to win, especially this Bristol race. Five-hundred laps is pretty tough. This is probably the most wore out I’ve been after a race all year long.”

Still, Jones admitted his performance boosted his and his team’s confidence.
“A lot of positives we can take out of tonight,” Jones said. “The only negative is we just ran second.”

With Busch capturing his second victory this season and only two races remaining in the regular season, at least two drivers are assured of making the playoffs on points. If there isn’t a first-time winner at either Darlington or Richmond, then three drivers will advance to the playoffs on points. Currently, the drivers in position to advance are Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray. Kenseth improved his position with a fourth-place finish Saturday night. McMurray placed 12th and Elliott 18th.

“If we do get in (the playoffs), we’re running a lot better as of late,” Kenseth said. “We’ve had some solid finishes. Last week wasn’t, but we’ve definitely been closer to being in contention for wins. So I do feel like we have a little bit of momentum at the right time.”

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Saturday, August 19, 2017

  1. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500.
  2. (1) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 500.
  3. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.
  4. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500.
  5. (25) Kurt Busch, Ford, 500.
  6. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500.
  7. (20) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500.
  8. (29) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
  9. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.
  10. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 500.
  11. (21) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  12. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 500.
  13. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  14. (14) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 500.
  15. (12) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 500.
  16. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 499.
  17. (19) David Ragan, Ford, 499.
  18. (4) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 499.
  19. (9) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 499.
  20. (26) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 499.
  21. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 499.
  22. (23) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 498.
  23. (31) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 497.
  24. (3) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 497.
  25. (24) Danica Patrick, Ford, 496.
  26. (34) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 496.
  27. (15) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 496.
  28. (35) * Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 495.
  29. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 493.
  30. (30) * JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 493.
  31. (37) * Gray Gaulding #, Chevrolet, 488.
  32. (36) * BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 482.
  33. (32) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 480.
  34. (40) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 476.
  35. (33) Landon Cassill, Ford, Accident, 412.
  36. (22) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, Accident, 394.
  37. (28) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 390.
  38. (39) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, Transmission, 352.
  39. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 230.
  40. (38) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 225.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  95.969 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 46 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.422 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 53 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   E. Jones # 1-3; C. Elliott 4-5; E. Jones # 6-50; K. Larson 51-63; E. Jones # 64; K. Larson 65-114; Kyle Busch 115-117; K. Larson 118-124; Kyle Busch 125-129; E. Jones # 130-166; Kyle Busch 167-179; E. Jones # 180-197; Kyle Busch 198-202; E. Jones # 203; Kyle Busch 204-240; E. Jones # 241; M. Kenseth 242-252; R. Newman 253; E. Jones # 254-360; Kyle Busch 361-397; E. Jones # 398-444; Kyle Busch 445-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  E. Jones # 9 times for 260 laps; Kyle Busch 7 times for 156 laps; K. Larson 3 times for 70 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 11 laps; C. Elliott 1 time for 2 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,77,42,24,20,11,21,22,78,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,48,4,31,77,42,11,18,27,14

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 20 2017
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