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Kurt Busch Kicks Back At Bristol Track

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018

Kurt Busch celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kurt Busch readily admits that ever since Bristol Motor Speedway was resurfaced and its banking changed in 2007 that it has “kicked my butt”, but in Saturday’s Night Race the NASCAR champion kicked back.

Busch conquered the tough short track by leading the final 24 laps in one of the facility’s most competitive races. En route to his first victory at Bristol since 2006, Busch quickly dispensed with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer on a restart; then held off Kyle Larson for the 0.367-second victory.

This is a big win for me,” Busch said. “I grew up at Roush Racing watching a guy named Mark Martin help me.  He was a great mentor.  I looked up to him as a racer.  He had 33, 34 wins.  I think he might have ended his career with 40. Early on, before I won my first-ever race, if I can get to 30, that’s a pretty special career.  I made it tonight.  I’m choked up about it.  I really love this win tonight.  To have six Bristol trophies is special.”

Busch’s first victory since the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2017 secured him a berth in the playoffs. With two races remaining before the playoffs begin in Las Vegas, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson secured a post-season spot via points with their seventh-, 16th- and second-place finishes, respectively. Those in the playoffs via the victory route are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon. Four playoff positions remain available.

While Busch is no stranger to post-season pressure, crew chief Billy Scott and several of the No. 41 crew will enter the playoffs with a rookie stripe.   Busch’s experience, however, has helped Scott weather the tough times this season and should pay dividends in the playoffs.

“Kurt has a lot of experience and knowledge to know what it takes to get the job done, how to keep perfecting the car as the race goes,” Scott said. “He’s never lost the confidence. He didn’t ever question whether it was a possibility to win, it was always we’re going to win; we just need to put it all together.  There’s been a lot of opportunity.”

Busch noted raw speed in the car was very important, but there could be no weak areas.

“If we have any weak areas, it’s (the) driver on late race restarts,” Busch said. “Some of those have been forced by some slower pit stops.  Tonight the stops were perfect. It unfolded nicely on restarts for us.  We executed as a team.” 

Busch’s victory came in one of the track’s most competitive and unpredictable races. Three drivers each led for more than 100 laps. Blaney led three times for 121 laps, Bowyer on two occasions for 120 and Elliott twice for 112. Logano wasn’t far behind at two times for 95 laps. There were nine caution flags for 70 laps and 19 lead changes among nine drivers. Busch’s Ford even sustained hood damage in a multi-car lap 3 incident that took away about 10 percent of his car’s downforce.

This track has been kicking my butt since they redid the concrete, reground the outside lane, then have been throwing the traction compound on the bottom lane,” Busch said.

“Today was funny, lap 150, the bottom lane was so caked up with just everything, it was like a punk rock kid in the ’80s continuing to put Dippity Do gel in his hair, going the next day with more in.  The bottom groove was a hot mess.”

That caused Busch to think the outside lane would come into play.

“(You) always have to stay cool here; have to roll with what damage you have here,” Busch continued. “You have to find lanes on restarts that will work.”

Busch plans to acquire rings commemorating the victory for his team.

I’ve been pushing hard to get those guys to victory lane.  I’m glad I can deliver,” Busch said.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Saturday, August 18, 2018

  1. (9) Kurt Busch, Ford, 500.
  2. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.
  3. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.
  4. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  5. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, 500.
  6. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.
  7. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 500.
  8. (22) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500.
  9. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  10. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
  11. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500.
  12. (24) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500.
  13. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.
  14. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.
  15. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500.
  16. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 499.
  17. (15) David Ragan, Ford, 499.
  18. (21) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 499.
  19. (28) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 499.
  20. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 497.
  21. (32) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 496.
  22. (29) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 496.
  23. (5) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 496.
  24. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 495.
  25. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 493.
  26. (35) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 492.
  27. (40) Blake Jones, Toyota, 485.
  28. (37) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 481.
  29. (20) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 435.
  30. (17) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 431.
  31. (8) Aric Almirola, Ford, 428.
  32. (34) * JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 423.
  33. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Accident, 338.
  34. (30) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Electrical, 234.
  35. (33) * Jesse Little(i), Toyota, Accident, 59.
  36. (4) Paul Menard, Ford, Accident, 28.
  37. (31) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 10.
  38. (27) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, Accident, 3.
  39. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 1.
  40. (38) * Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, Accident, 1.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  89.538 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 58 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.367 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 70 laps.

Lead Changes:  19 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 1-13; K. Harvick 14-15; K. Larson 16; R. Blaney 17-62; K. Larson 63; R. Blaney 64-130; A. Almirola 131; K. Harvick 132-137; C. Elliott 138-191; R. Blaney 192-199; A. Almirola 200; J. Logano 201-254; K. Larson 255; J. Logano 256-296; C. Elliott 297-354; K. Larson 355; C. Bowyer 356-441; R. Newman 442; C. Bowyer 443-476; Kurt Busch 477-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  R. Blaney 3 times for 121 laps; C. Bowyer 2 times for 120 laps; C. Elliott 2 times for 112 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 95 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 24 laps; K. Larson 5 times for 17 laps; K. Harvick 2 times for 8 laps; A. Almirola 2 times for 2 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,4,14,9,10,42,41,20,22,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,9,42,10,12,14,20,48,41,88

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018
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