Bristol’s Back! - Kurt Busch Brings Home Checkered Flag
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headed to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops NRA 500 under the lights Saturday night. Kurt Busch grabbed the sixth win of his career at the Tennessee track avoiding much of the banging and banging that Bristol was once known for. NASCAR fans have complained for years that the racing at Bristol Motor Speedway has been boring since the track was tweaked and re-tweaked. Now it seems like the old Bristol is back!
Busch outlasted several charges following late restarts to grab his first win of the 2018 season and his 30th in the Cup Series. The win also secured Stewart – Haas Racing a third winning car in the Playoffs. Busch’s teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer are already locked in. Busch expressed his pleasure with winning his 30th at one of his favorite tracks.
“I love this place,” Kurt Busch said. “I always wanted to get to 30 (wins). This is a big win for me. Early on before I even won my first race I said, Man, if I could win 30 races. It's all about winning, I wasn't worried about not making the playoffs, so we could kind of treat these races coming up as free-for-alls, and we're just going to keep going after it.”
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Ford for SHR, made the winning run with Kyle Larson close behind. Over the last ten laps, Larson appeared to make slight gains in the corners but Busch would pull away on the short straight-a-ways. Larson was one of the favorites to win Saturday night as he’s become known for coming in second at the track. The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet said that he was disappointed but had fun.
“Probably the most frustrating Bristol race I've had just because I never really felt like I had a shot to win,” Larson said. “If we could race here every Saturday and Sunday, our grandstands would be packed, our TV ratings would be very high. Let's build more Bristols.”
Kyle Busch Dumps Martin Truex Jr.
Kurt’s brother, Kyle Busch, was favored to win but finished in the 20th position instead. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing caused a massive wreck on lap two of the race. The wreck involved fifteen cars and sent Kyle two laps down. Damage to his car made it hard for the gasman to fuel his car during stops. Much of the progress he made during runs regaining positions was lost due to the slow pit stops.
However, Busch managed to make his way back onto the led lap and started to battle Martin Truex Jr. for second position. As Busch dove inside he hit the back-left quarter panel of Truex’s No. 78 Toyota. The move sent Truex spinning into the wall and back up the track where he collided with JJ Yeley. The wreck ended the day for both Truex and Yeley.
A frustrated Truex commented about both the wreck and the fact that he burned up his tires while chasing Clint Bowyer who was the leader at the time.
“I just got hit in the left rear, pretty simple,” Truex said about Kyle Busch wrecking him. “This place has been so hard on us. I can't even explain to you how good we've run here in the past three or four years and crap like this happens every single time. It's like just one thing after another. I should've knocked (Bowyer's) butt out of the way because he held me up for 15-20 laps and burnt my front tires off screwing with him," Truex said. "Played too nice and got the crappy end of the stick.”
Busch took full credit for the wreck that ruined an amazing comeback. The contact during the wreck, and more that followed during the closing laps, caused Busch’s back left tire to go down.
“I crashed the 78,” Busch said. “That was my bad. Totally misjudged that one coming off the corner. I clipped him there and sent him for a ride. He knows that wasn’t intentional at all. We’ve worked really, really, really, really good together these last two to three years, so that shouldn’t ruin anything between us.”
Finishing Order Consumers Energy 400 & Stats
Complete finishing order for the Consumers Energy 400 with total number of laps by each driver.
1 Kurt Busch 2 Kyle Larson 3 Chase Elliott 4 Joey Logano 5 Erik Jones 6 Clint Bowyer 7 Ryan Blaney 8 Alex Bowman 9 Jimmie Johnson 10 Kevin Harvick 11 Trevor Bayne 12 Ryan Newman 13 Austin Dillon 14 Denny Hamlin 15 Kasey Kahne 16 Brad Keselowski 17 David Ragan 18 Daniel Suarez 19 Chris Buescher 20 Kyle Busch 21 Ty Dillon 22 Matt DiBenedetto 23 William Byron 24 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 25 Landon Cassill 26 Ross Chastain 27 Blake Jones 28 Timmy Hill 29 Jamie McMurray 30 Martin Truex, Jr. 31 Aric Almirola 32 J.J. Yeley 33 Reed Sorenson 34 Corey LaJoie 35 Jesse Little 36 Paul Menard 37 Michael McDowell 38 Bubba Wallace 39 A.J. Allmendinger 40 Gray Gaulding