Sunday’s roundup: Kyle Busch completes Martinsville sweep
Martinsville, Va. — Kyle Busch finally figured out Martinsville Speedway in his truck victory on Saturday.
He dominated it on Sunday, leading 352 laps and pulling away on a restart with 11 laps to go and outrunning AJ Allmendinger to the finish for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on the series’ smallest, oldest oval, and a sweep of the two-race weekend.
Busch, who won for the first time in 31 starts at Martinsville in the truck race on Saturday, earned his 35th Cup victory on the season’s first short track. The race was run in bright sunshine, but cool temperatures that never let the track get quite as sticky as it normally does.
The option to pick the inside or outside line as the leader on the final restart was great for Busch, but not for teammate Matt Kenseth.
“That was the key to the race, being able to restart on the bottom like that,” Busch said after choosing the inside line, putting Kenseth outside.
“We all talked as a group earlier this morning about how we were going to do that and what we were going to do and we all said, with 10 to go, it’s pretty much off limits. It was (11) to go, so it was pretty much right on the brink there, so, ‘Sorry Matt.’ ”
When the green flag flew, Busch sailed off, Allmendinger beat Kenseth to the inside position and Kenseth got shuffled back to 15th.
Busch, meanwhile, led the most laps at Martinsville since Bobby Hamilton was out front for 378 on April 20, 1998.
Allmendinger was second, followed by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills).
“I was kind of hoping we’d stay green the last 120 laps,” Allmendinger said. “I figured that wasn’t going to happen, but I was praying we had a shot at that because I felt like if that happened, we had a great chance to win the race.”
Several other drivers who pitted before the final restart started in the sixth row, or further back, of side-by-side racing, and while Larson and Keselowski recovered for top-five finishes, others got caught up in traffic and that allowed Dillon to hang on out of nowhere.
It was the second straight race at Martinsville, long a Kenseth nemesis, was a huge disappointment.
Nico Rosberg made it back-to-back victories to start the new Formula One season by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix, capitalizing on a first-corner collision involving Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and an engine failure which prevented Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel from starting the race.