Saturday's motors: Kurt Busch steals spotlight at Bristol
Bristol, Tenn. — Kurt Busch stole the spotlight from his younger brother Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway to snap a 58-race winless streak and grab an overdue short track victory.
Busch won for the first time this season — first since the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500 — but it was his sixth victory on the 0.533-mile bullring he once dominated. Busch once won three consecutive times on the Tennessee track and was considered the best in the business on the concrete oval.
Then his younger brother learned his way around the place, and Kyle Busch became the master of the track.
Kyle Busch has seven Cup wins at Bristol, 21 combined across NASCAR’s national series. He’s so good that he chose the song “All I Do Is Win” by D.J. Khaled to play as he was introduced before the race. The crowd responded with a thunderous jeering, and Kyle Busch’s eventful evening was off to a roaring start.
He triggered a 15-car accident just two laps into the race, fell two laps off the pace, came back to race Martin Truex Jr. for second, and moved Truex out the way late in the race. His late spin set up the final restart that helped Kurt Busch seal the victory.
A frustrated Truex kicked his car in anger after the incident, and as Kyle Busch was tending to his wounded race car, older brother Kurt battled Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer for the lead. Kurt Busch was relentless on the restart and got his Ford to the front, then came Kyle Busch’s spin for the ninth caution.
Kurt Busch had a good restart and Kyle Larson, on fresher tires, desperately tried to catch him. Kurt Busch held him off and Larson, winner of the Xfinity Series race Friday night, finished second in his bid for the Bristol sweep.
The victory was the 30th of Kurt Busch’s career and he and Kyle Busch became the only brothers in Cup history with 30 wins each. It was Kurt Busch’s first Bristol victory since 2006. Kyle Busch ranks fifth on Bristol’s career list, while Kurt Busch broke a tie with Jeff Gordon for sixth.
“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.’”
The ninth driver to win this season, Kurt Busch earned a spot in the 16-driver playoff field.
“It’s all about winning,” he said. “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.”
The victory was the 13th for Stewart-Haas Racing since it joined Ford last season, and the 100th Cup victory for the Fusion.
Kyle Busch wound up 20th. He led the first 70 laps of the Xfinity Series race but wrecked with a flat tire, so his Bristol weekend was a bust.
“We probably finished where we should have anyways, as torn up as our race car is,” said Kyle Busch, who also accepted fault for the contact with Truex. “I feel terrible about that. Obviously I just misjudged it by a little bit - four inches, six inches, whatever — I didn’t think I was next to him yet and I clipped him and sent him for a whale of a ride.”
Will Power will begin his bid for a third straight win at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., from the pole.
Power turned a lap of 219.511 mph to take the top spot and perhaps bolster his bid for a championship with four races left in the IndyCar season.
Power won his 53rd pole and tied AJ Foyt for second on the career list.
Power and Josef Newgarden made it a 1-2 start for team owner Roger Penske.
Scott Dixon leads the championship standings as he chases his sixth IndyCar championship. Dixon starts 13th and holds a 46-point lead over 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi in the standings.
Rossi starts third in Sunday’s 500-mile race.
Newgarden, the defending series champion, trails Dixon by 60 points in the standings and Power is 87 points back in fourth place.
Robert Hight raced to his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 59th overall in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.
Hight had a 3.959-second run at 324.67 mph in the third Funny Car qualifying session. The Chevrolet driver is the defending Funny Car season champion.
Billy Torrence was the fastest in Top Fuel, Erica Enders topped the Pro Stock field, and Matt Smith took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Torrence took the first No. 1 qualifying position of his 27-race career in the final session with a run of 3.784 at 326.32. Enders secured her first No. 1 qualifying position since 2015 a 6.609 at 207.53, and Smith had his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season with a 6.852 at 198.47.