Kyle Busch breaks jinx with Sprint Cup win at Kansas

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By REID SPENCER

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— Kyle Busch fi­nally over­came his grem­lins at Kansas Speedway in a race that left Martin Truex Jr. over­come with frus­tra­tion.

On Satur­day night—in stark con­trast to many of his prior mis­ad­ven­tures at the 1.5-mile track— Busch waited un­til af­ter the Go Bowl­ing 400 to de­stroy his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Rac­ing Toy­ota, a feat he ac­com­plished dur­ing his cel­e­bra­tory burnout.

Busch took the lead for good on Lap 231 of 267 af­ter Truex, who led a race-high 172 laps, brought his car back to pit road on Lap 215 be­cause of a loose wheel, the re­sult of a bolt that broke and pre­vented the tire from mount­ing prop­erly dur­ing a green-flag stop three laps ear­lier.

With the fastest car out of con­tention, Busch had to sur­vive two more restarts, the first on lap 240 and the sec­ond nine laps later af­ter Denny Ham­lin tried to thread the nee­dle be­tween Kyle Lar­son and Brad Ke­selowski and trig­gered a Lap 241 wreck in Turn 4 that ru­ined the chances of four strong cars—those of Ham­lin, Ke­selowski, Lar­son and Joey Logano.

Af­ter the race went green for the fi­nal time on Lap 249, Busch

KANSAS CITY, KAN.

held off Kevin Har­vick’s charge to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries event at Kansas, his third of the sea­son and the 37th of his ca­reer.

Har­vick came home sec­ond 1.112 sec­onds be­hind Busch. Kurt Busch was third, fol­lowed by Matt Kenseth and Sunoco Rookie of the Year con­tender Ryan Blaney, who posted a ca­reer-best fin­ish on an open-mo­tor track.

“I can’t say enough about every­body on this team,” said Busch, who broke the jinx at a track where his av­er­age fin­ish is 19.2. “At the be­gin­ning of the race, we weren’t very good. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens and the guys just keep work­ing on it. The 78 (Truex) was prob­a­bly the fastest car but we just kept our­selves in the game. It’s pretty im­pres­sive.”

Stevens opted to keep Busch on the track un­der the fifth cau­tion on Lap 233, af­ter Ricky Sten­house Jr. scraped the Turn 4 wall to bring out the yel­low. The choice to keep the lead and take ad­van­tage of clean air proved a wise one.

“I knew our car was best out front,” said Busch, who has now won at all ac­tive Sprint Cup tracks ex­cept for Charlotte and Po­cono. “I had trou­ble in traf­fic all night long. I wasn’t the best at be­ing able to pick my way through that stuff, but when we had green flag pit stops, I re­ally got some good holes and was able to make some good time.

But the call to stay out was a no­brainer, and it cer­tainly worked out for us. I was kind of wor­ried about those guys that had tires be­hind us, but then they all crashed with tires (on Lap 241), so it was kind of weird.”

Af­ter qual­i­fy­ing 26th, Har­vick’s Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing team made sig­nif­i­cant ad­just­ments for the race.

“We over­hauled this thing this morn­ing to try to get it close, and they did a great job,” Har­vick said, who hit a piece of de­bris dur­ing the fi­nal 19-lap green-flag run. With the nose and split­ter of his car dam­aged, Har­vick suf­fered a tight han­dling con­di­tion and Busch was able to pull away.

“Hit a big piece of de­bris and knocked a big hunk out of the nose and knocked the split­ter down,” Har­vick said. “From that point on, it was tight. Oth­er­wise I would have drove around him. All in all, it just didn’t play out that way and they were able to win the race.”

And it cer­tainly didn’t play out the way Truex thought and hoped it would. For the eighth time in his ca­reer, Truex led more than 100 laps in a Sprint Cup race. For the last seven of those races, he has failed to win (he fin­ished 14th).

“I couldn’t be­lieve it,” Truex said of the loose wheel that ru­ined his night. “I went around (Turns) 1 and 2, and I was like, ‘The wheel’s loose.’ I kept telling my­self that maybe it’s not, maybe it’s just shak­ing be­cause it has tape on it or some­thing stupid. It was loose, and I knew it right away. Frus­trat­ing, but that’s how it goes.

“We’re go­ing to win races for sure. If we keep bring­ing cars like that, we’re go­ing to win some. It’s frus­trat­ing when you’ve had it hap­pen so many times in your ca­reer. I swear, you watch guys win races that don’t have the fastest car or on fuel mileage and all this stuff, and it’s like, ‘Damn, some­day I’m go­ing to get on one of those or on the other side of one of them.

“Usu­ally you can dom­i­nate and win, but it’s tough, and it hap­pens. It’s part of rac­ing.”

Truex, how­ever, can find so­lace in Busch’s clear demon­stra­tion on Satur­day night that luck can change for the better.

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

Kyle Busch cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries Go Bowl­ing 400 at Kansas Speedway on Satur­day in Kansas City, Kan.

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