Kyle Busch passes Lar­son for rain-de­layed win

Orlando Sentinel - - RUNNING / COLLEGE FOOTBALL / AUTOS -

BRIS­TOL, Tenn. — Kyle Busch was all smiles and Kyle Lar­son was all scowls.

Busch passed Lar­son with five laps re­main­ing at Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way on Mon­day to win his sec­ond straight Cup Se­ries race, cul­mi­nat­ing a rain-de­layed week­end when tem­per­a­tures dipped into the high 30s.

Busch cel­e­brated by thrust­ing his arms in the air and with a tra­di­tional bow to the crowd on top of his No. 18 Toy­ota while the snow be­gan fall­ing — a fit­ting end to a long weather-stalled week­end.

Busch said af­ter the race that he didn’t have the best car but, he added, “We had the best car right at the end.”

The loss left Lar­son, who led a race-high 200 laps, ex­tremely frus­trated.

“I feel like ev­ery time I race here I al­most get a win,” Lar­son said of his sec­ond­place fin­ish. “I’ve been beat by Kyle about ev­ery time I race here, too, so that gets frus­trat­ing af­ter a while.”

It was Busch’s 45th ca­reer Cup Se­ries win, mov­ing him ahead of Bill El­liott into sole pos­ses­sion of 16th place.

It also was his sev­enth win at Bris­tol while Lar­son has yet to win at the halfmile track.

Busch will look to make it three straight wins next week at Rich­mond, a track where he has strug­gled in re­cent years.

“We will try to get bet­ter and fig­ure out we need to do to get around there well,” Busch said. “It used to be easy, but the last few times we haven’t been great as a com­pany.”

Coin­ci­den­tally, Busch won with the aid of long­time foe Brad Ke­selowski, who wrecked with 30 laps left and brought out the cau­tion flag.

Lar­son ap­peared to have the car to beat on Mon­day, run­ning well ahead of the pack on long green-flag runs. But af­ter Busch took on tires dur­ing the yel­low-flag stop, he knew he was back in the race with 22 laps to go. He fi­nally caught Lar­son with five laps left, bumped him out of the way and scooted by.

Lar­son made a late charge but couldn’t catch him.

“When it comes down to crunch time, you gotta go,” Busch said.

Asked if Ke­selowski had moved up on his list of fa­vorites, Busch laughed and said, “That’s push­ing it too far.”

“I kind of felt bad for him, maybe that much,” Busch said, pinch­ing his thumb and in­dex fin­ger close to­gether. “But it cer­tainly helped our cause. So it was much ap­pre­ci­ated; let’s go with that.”

Lar­son was lead­ing when the race was post­poned Sun­day with 296 laps re­main­ing af­ter be­ing de­layed several times be­cause of rain. The race also was de­layed Mon­day for about 35 min­utes, but the cars fi­nally got back on the track af­ter the rain and sleet sub­sided.

Lar­son said he wasn’t sure why his car got loose late in the race, which al­lowed Busch to get by him.

“I just re­ally didn’t have any grip,” Lar­son said. “I thought it would tighten up for me and I could get go­ing, but it never re­ally did and I was just re­ally loose. I hate that I didn’t win. It’s an­other one at Bris­tol.”

As for Busch, he has an­other Bris­tol sword to add to his col­lec­tion, al­though he’s not quite sure what he’s go­ing to do with all of those un­usual tro­phies.

“It’s a cool prob­lem have,” he said.

Jim­mie John­son was pleased with earn­ing his first top-five fin­ish of the sea­son, and hoped to quiet some of his crit­ics.

“We have it rolling in the right di­rec­tion,” John­son to said.

Ricky Sten­house Jr. was fourth and Alex Bow­man fin­ished fifth.

Ke­selowski won the first two stages and ini­tially ap­peared to be the car to beat. How­ever, the No. 2 Ford strug­gled on a long green flag run late in the race and fell two laps be­hind af­ter ra­dio­ing in that some­thing broke in his sus­pen­sion. Ke­selowski hit the wall with 30 laps left, bring­ing out the fi­nal cau­tion.

Darrell “Bubba” Wal­lace passed Busch with 126 laps re­main­ing to lead a Cup race for the first time in his young ca­reer. It didn’t last long, though, as Busch blew by him a short time later.

Daniel Suarez raced with a frac­tured thumb he suf­fered last week at Texas and fin­ished in 11th place.

ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IM­AGES

Kyle Busch’s win at Bris­tol Mon­day earned him his sec­ond straight Cup vic­tory.

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