It is Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and his first win with Chip Ganassi Racing, which snapped a 64-race winless streak. It is also Chevrolet’s first win at Kentucky Speedway in nine attempts.
The final restart came on Lap 268 with Kurt Busch in the second row on the outside behind race leader Joey Logano.
But with drafting help from his teammate Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch was able to sweep to the outside of Logano and challenge Kyle Busch over the final two laps.
“Hell yeah! Hell yeah!” Kurt Busch yelled to fans on the frontstretch before speaking to NBCSN at the start-finish line. “You know, racing your little brother every week and watching him win a lot. I’m proud of him, but he gave me a little bit of room on that outside. He could have clobbered us against the wall, and third place probably would have got it. What an awesome run.”
The victory came a week after Busch missed out on a trip to victory lane at Daytona International Speedway. The No. 1 team elected to pit from the lead under caution just before a lightning strike halted the race, which was called official more than two hours later without restarting.
“Well, we got a yellow at the end that put us back in position,” Kurt Busch said. “Whatever last week was, it’s this week right now, and we’ve got the trophy.”
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) July 14, 2019
It is the third time the Busch brothers have finished first and second in a Cup race (Kyle Busch won the first two). His younger brother finished second after leading 72 laps.
“I’m glad it was a thriller,” Kyle Busch told NBCSN. “Unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal …
“It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes and been a part of a lot of them and none with my brother like that, so that was a first. You know, no hard feelings, and we move on.”
The overtime restart was set up by a Bubba Wallace spin with six laps left in the scheduled distance.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kurt Busch (first stage win of the season)
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin earned his second top five in the last 10 races … Clint Bowyer finished sixth after placing 34th or worse in three of the previous four races … pole-sitter Daniel Suarez finished eighth, fighting back from going multiple laps down after a speeding penalty in the middle of the race.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Jimmie Johnson got loose and wrecked in Turn 2 on Lap 178 while running seventh. He finished 30th …. Austin Dillon lost a gear on the Stage 2 restart and went to the garage. He finished 35th.
NOTABLE: Chip Ganassi Racing is only the fifth team to win a Cup race this season (joining Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports and Spire Motorsports). It is the fourth team to win at Kentucky … Crew chief Matt McCall earned his first Cup win in 164 starts.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Today things went right, and my little brother gave me just enough room. It was like, ‘You going to lift? I ain’t going to lift. You going to lift? I ain’t going to lift.’ And we had a duel. We had a duel going down through (Turns) 3 and 4, and I didn’t know who was going to come out on top.” – Kurt Busch
WHAT’S NEXT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on July 21 (NBCSN).
“Why not have a third one?” Suarez asked, clearly meaning him.
But missed opportunities and misfortune Saturday night kept his winless streak alive and also left him still outside a playoff spot on a night when he could have scored more points. He wasn’t the only one who lost a chance at a better result. A restart cost William Byron. A pit road penalty stymied Denny Hamlin.
It was Suarez, though, who was hurt the most Saturday night.
He entered the race three points out of a playoff spot. As the pole-sitter, he was in position to score stage points, while Ryan Newman, who held the final playoff spot entering the night, started at the rear because his car failed inspection.
Everything was there for Suarez to take advantage of Newman’s situation.
A pit call backfired and Suarez finished the first stage 14th, failing to score any stage points, after leading the first 49 laps. It marked the first time since Auto Club Speedway in March that the pole-sitter did not score points in the opening stage.
“I feel like the first stage, I feel like the call that we made on four tires instead of two tires, that kind of messed us up a little bit,” Suarez told NBC Sports.
Crew chief Billy Scott had Suarez stop for four tires under caution at Lap 49. Problem was that two cars, including winner Kurt Busch, took no tires and 10 cars took two tires. Suarez was the first car with four tires, but he restarted 13th.
“Really thought that we had run far enough at that point … that it would be the first of our two opportunities to put lefts on (for a four-tire change),” Scott told NBC Sports. “From those lefts there, you only needed them one more time.
“That was kind of the root of it. In hindsight, there were a lot of cars that took two tires and that kind of hurt. Restarting 13th and on the bottom (lane), and that was a big difference, too. Probably the only thing that is regretful with that is that we ended up not getting any stage points. Where we’re at in points, that’s important. Not getting stage points out of that deal definitely hurt and something we question for sure. After that, what really got us was our flat tire.”
That happened in the second stage. Suarez pitted on Lap 107. He fell two laps down and went three laps down on Lap 143.
With the pit call in the first stage and the flat tire in the second stage, Suarez scored no stage points.
That he got back on the lead lap and finished eighth consoled Suarez only so much.
“Bad decisions, little bad luck but were able to recover for a decent finish,” Suarez said of his night.
Problem was that Newman finished ninth. Suarez scored 29 points Saturday. Newman had 28.
Newman fell out of the final playoff spot. Erik Jones moved into that spot with his third-place finish, scoring 43 points. Suarez trails Jones by four points for that spot.
Byron is in a more comfortable position than Suarez in the season standings. Byron is 12th in the standings and is 46 points ahead of Newman, who is in the first spot outside a playoff position.
Byron appeared headed for a strong run before he was penalized on Lap 184 for jumping the restart. He restarted second to Clint Bowyer, who brought the cars through the restart zone slowly.
“(Bowyer) dragged it way down in the restart zone,” Byron told NBC Sports, “and I still, obviously kind of peddled it a little bit and got in front of him and gave it back and went with him after that and still got called for it. I don’t know. I felt like I gave enough back.”
Asked if he would talk to NASCAR about it, Byron said: “I understand the rule. I don’t think it was necessary to call it. It wasn’t like I killed him into Turn 1. I don’t know.”
Byron fell a lap down and finished 18th.
Hamlin also was frustrated despite finishing fifth. A penalty for an uncontrolled tire on Lap 147 derailed Hamlin’s hopes of winning and scoring more playoff points.
Unlike Suarez and Byron, who are winless this year, Hamlin has two victories and is bound for the playoffs.
Still, the penalty stung.
“That kind of sealed our fate to try to win,” Hamlin said. “Certainly we rallied. The reason we had a top-five finish was because we had a fast car and had some good restarts at the end and was able to get back up there.
“I’m ecstatic that we have race-winning speed every single week, but certainly we’ve got to tighten up the execution a little bit. Once we do that, we’ll be pretty good.”
In a race that wound up in a battle of brothers, older sibling Kurt Busch beat younger brother Kyle to the finish in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Here’s what the Busch brothers and other drivers had to say afterward:
Kurt Busch – Winner: “Hell yeah, hell yeah! You know, racing your little brother every week and watching him win a lot, I’m proud of him, but I’m proud of him he gave me a little bit of room on that outside. He could have clobbered us against the wall, and third place probably would have got it. What an awesome run. Well, we got a yellow at the end that put us back in position. Whatever last week was, it’s this week right now, and we’ve got the trophy.”
Kyle Busch – finished second: “I’m glad it was a thriller. Unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal … Obviously great to put on great races and great finishes. Been part of a lot of them, but none with my brother like that. So that was a first. No hard feelings.”
Erik Jones – finished third: (How much did you have to overcome?) “A lot early. We just didn’t have the track position. We qualified not where we wanted to and had to work back from that. Right from the start I knew that the Craftsman Camry was pretty good. I felt comfortable in practice in race trim. Just had to work back from it and it took until the second stage to get up there and we were finally in position and got some good restarts and some good pit stops and got up in contention on the last restart. You can’t ask for much more. You want to be there and want to have a shot. We did that. We just didn’t have quite enough car and didn’t have quite the right circumstances, but good day overall.”
Kyle Larson – finished fourth: “I thought the race for the lead there was really good from what I could see. It was good, maybe a little better than your normal Kentucky. … (On the final restart) I was satisfied with the launch I got. I was going to be committed to Kurt (Busch)’s back bumper no matter how much of a run I had because I knew I couldn’t get to the lead from the third row so if I could help a teammate out, I was happy with that. I’m happy for Kurt (Busch), Matt McCall and everybody on the 1 team. They have been really strong all year long. They should have won last week, so it’s nice for them to get some redemption today. … (What was it like at the end of the race?) I couldn’t believe we didn’t crash. Kyle (Busch) was loose a couple of times below him and they made contact I think a couple of times. There was some really good car control and it was fun to watch from my seat.”
Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “We definitely had a fast car – a car that was fast enough to run up there with those guys, but obviously going to the back of the pack there with 80 (laps) to go was detrimental to try to win the race. We had to make a call with no tires there and we didn’t gain track position. We had worse tires than everyone around us and still was able to come up to fifth, so pretty happy with that effort. We have fast cars every week. As long as we have a clean race, we have chances to win and we just can’t have the penalties that we have and wrecks that we’ve had. It’s just a combination of things where we’re really, really close.”
Clint Bowyer – finished sixth: “It was a positive night for us. We finally got some stage points the last two races. It didn’t start out good but we did a good job of working together, staying in it and not giving up. We got some track position and right there at the end, I don’t know. Our SHR cars are extremely fast, we show that in qualifying, but they aren’t the best in race trim and traffic yet. We have work to do there and we know that. We are going to the magic mile next weekend but given the month of June that we had, we had to get that monkey shook off our back. Right there at the end, you hate to give up fifth right there at the line but we could have just as easily wrecked in turn one on the restart and had another finish like we had in June. We needed a good solid finish and we got that and got some good positive mojo back with our team and we will build on it.”
Joey Logano – finished seventh: “The caution came out at the wrong time. It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum. (Kurt Busch) had a huge run and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop (Kyle Busch) on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw (Kurt Busch) coming and felt like if I could get in front of him that we were so low at the time if I blocked (Kurt Busch) he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop (Kurt Busch). I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides. … (How frustrating is it?) “It is frustrating when you are fast enough to win and you don’t win, yes it is frustrating. … (Was the racing good?) “Yeah, it was a great race. It was a lot of fun. You had strategy and cautions and it was probably the best Kentucky race we have ever had. If I was a race fan I would say that was a cool finish. I am a little too close to the fire to say it was a cool finish right now. … (On the final restart) “We were in a perfect position when the caution came out. I did what I could to clear (Kyle Busch) before Turn 1. I got a decent launch but he stopped my momentum. … I just didn’t do a good enough job. We had the fastest car and we didn’t win. That’s the takeaway.”
Daniel Suarez – finished eighth: “t was an eventful night for sure. We just had a fast race car but we got a bit tight. I feel like we made the car better but we never got the track position back. We had a tire going down and then I was speeding coming to pit road because I was wheel hopping because of the tire. It was one problem after another. We were fast enough to overcome that but not enough to get a better finish. I feel like the good thing is that we have the speed we just have to keep working to have a cleaner day and keep working to try to keep that speed the whole race. … (Is it an empty feeling to be on the pole and not come away with any stage points?) “It is. I feel like the first stage the call that we made on four tires instead of two tires kind of messed us up a little bit. That is part of it. We made our bed on that. There was one caution after another and we couldn’t recover. After that we had the flat tire. It was just bad decisions and a little bad luck but we were able to overcome with a decent finish.”
Ryan Newman – finished ninth: “It was a good run. To start where we did and get back up into the top 10, that was good. We had a crazy last restart, lost a few spots but got it back in (Turns) 3 and 4. I’m proud of the guys. … (Restarts like the final one) are crazy, but this aero package makes it that way. … I think we got five or six cars there coming to the white. It was a good run for our Acorns Ford. We still have to get our performance better. The guys did a good job on pit lane but we just have to have faster race cars. We didn’t have the balance quite right but you can’t come to the race track and qualify damn near wide open six-tenths of a second off the pole. We have some work to do and we know what to do.”
Chris Buescher – finished 10th: “Our Planter’s Camaro was pretty good tonight at certain times, but we definitely fought it. We worked hard to keep it where we needed to be all day long. That was good strategy on top of the pit box; hats off to our group. We’ve got some work to do yet, but that was a great finish. … (Are you encouraged by the speed you’ve shown?) “Yeah, absolutely. It’s encouraging to see it. To be 100 percent honest, tonight was not one of our better 1.5-mile tracks compared to where we have been in the last couple of months. With that being said, we definitely got a finish out of it. We ran good; we ran on the lead lap all night long. We are trying to find some more speed. We hadn’t qualified really well and I think tonight was about trying to figure out a way to get some more raw speed out of it. At the end there, it was a wild restart and we were able to come out with a good top ten finish.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — finished 12th: “Our Fifth Third Bank Ford showed speed all night. It was good to be able to lead laps and get some stage points in the backyard of Fifth Third Bank. All in all it was a good day for our No. 17 team.”
Ryan Blaney — finished 13th: “You come into every weekend expecting to run well, no matter if it is your best track or worst track. I don’t really go into any weekend expecting to run a certain way. You just try to do your best. My team did a great job overcoming adversity early in the race to get us back on the lead lap. Our DEX Imaging Ford Mustang was just so tight. The last restart was crazy and almost got into the wall. We will move on to New Hampshire.”
Aric Almirola — finished 14th: “We had a really fast Valley Tech Ford. Johnny (Klausmeier, crew chief) and the team did a great job adjusting on it all night after we started off tight and eventually got our Mustang freed up. We were in a great position to come out of Kentucky with a good finish, but we ended up going the wrong direction on the final restart. It wasn’t the ending we wanted, but we had a strong weekend, and we’ve got a chance to do it all again in New Hampshire.”
Brad Keselowski — finished 20th: “I don’t know, we’ll need to get back to the shop and figure out what happened tonight. We just didn’t have the speed with the Discount Tire Ford Mustang. I thought we had a good shot to compete for the win but that just wasn’t the case.”
Daniel Hemric — finished 24th: “Our No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was faster than our 24th-place finish indicates tonight at Kentucky Speedway. Starting in the top 10 was a positive step for this team, and it was great to earn Stage points at the conclusion of Stage 1. Throughout Stage 2, we chipped away at the lead and gained solid ground until we were assessed a stop and go penalty during our pit stop on lap 150. The penalty put us two laps down, but we kept fighting and grinding it out because there’s no quit in this team. It wasn’t the finish we hoped for, but I know we have a resilient group that will be ready to rebound next weekend in New Hampshire.”
Ty Dillon – finished 26th: “Kentucky is a tricky track. I really enjoy racing here, but it always has its challenges. Tonight wasn’t the night that we had hoped for, but we learned a lot. Our GEICO Military team has seen strong improvements in our superspeedway and short-track packages, and these intermediate tracks are next on the list. We may not be getting the finishes that we deserve because of one thing or another, but we’re taking valuable notes that we’re able to apply as we keep growing and building.”
Austin Dillon — finished 35th: “The AAA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was really fast to start the race today at Kentucky Speedway. We were able to run within the top-five for much of the first two Stages and earn Stage points, which is definitely an improvement over last year. We have speed, and that’s a testament to all of the hard work RCR and ECR is doing. Unfortunately we had transmission and alternator issues today and spent time in the garage making repairs. I hate breaking stuff, but when you do, this No. 3 team just keeps working and never gives up. We’re going to get this monkey off our back and we’ll be just fine.”
SPARTA, Ky. — They left pit road together, walking nearly as close as they had driven late in Saturday night’s Cup race, these combatants who once fought after an event.
There was no need to separate Kyle Busch and Joey Logano this time at Kentucky Speedway. As they walked, their arms moved, but that’s how drivers talk, using their hands to illustrate what they’re discussing about the car.
Their late duel was just part of a thrilling finish that Kyle Busch lost to his older brother Kurt. For the first time in their careers, Kurt Busch won a Cup race with Kyle Busch second. After leading when the race went to overtime, Logano fell back and finished seventh.
But with about 20 laps left, Kyle Busch and Logano battled for what would be the lead once the two cars ahead of them pitted. Logano got underneath Busch on the frontstretch and came up the track. They nearly hit. Busch darted to his right to avoid the contact.
They continued to duel. Busch crossed over and got under Logano on the backstretch. Busch moved his car up, pressuring Logano but the defending series champ had the preferred line into Turn 3 and got by.
Busch then radioed crew chief Adam Stevens that his car was not handling as well. Stevens told the former champion: “Strap it up and … get after it.”
Logano couldn’t hold off both Busch brothers on the green-white-checkered finish.
“The caution came out at the wrong time,” Logano said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me.
“That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum. (Kurt Busch) had a huge run, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop (Kyle Busch) on his right rear by side-drafting.
“I saw (Kurt Busch) coming and felt like if I could get in front of him that we were so low at the time if I blocked (Kurt Busch) he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop (him). I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”
As for Kyle Busch? He was left with a runner-up finish.
“At least I salvaged the same finish we should have had anyways,” Kyle Busch said.
Kyle Busch also pondered doing more on his last-lap duel with his older brother.
“I knew I cleared him into (Turn) 3, and if I just stayed in the gas, I was never going to make the exit,” Busch told NBC Sports. “I was going to plow the fence. Maybe I should have just gotten in front of him and messed up his air. It’s so easy to do with these cars, it’s pretty much just an air game. I missed my chance over there, I guess. That’s about all I could have really done different.”
Kurt Busch won his first race in nearly a year and locked himself into a spot in the upcoming playoffs with his win in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
In an exciting finish and final lap battle with younger brother Kyle, the elder Busch sibling held on when the two brothers made contact heading into Turn 4 and edged ahead to take the checkered flag.
Erik Jones tied his best finish — third-place — for the fourth time thus far this season.
Kyle Busch came into Saturday night’s race 18 points behind the series-leading Logano. But after his runner-up finish at Kentucky, Kyle Busch is now just 11 points behind Logano heading into next weekend’s race at New Hampshire.
Kevin Harvick, meanwhile, is third in the standings, a distant 101 points behind Logano.