EditorsNote: Adds quotes, adjusts throughout
A week ago at Daytona International Speedway, a flash of lightning cost Kurt Busch a shot at victory and the playoff berth that would have come with it. Under clear skies at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night, Busch hammered his way past his brother Kyle as they headed to the finish line in overtime and got his victory.
The checkered flag at the Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s first of the season and sends him into those playoffs.
“He gave me a little bit of room on that outside,” Kurt Busch said of his brother on the final lap. “He could have clobbered us against the wall and third place probably would have got (the win). What an awesome run.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who lead a race-high 72 laps and who was going for his third win at Kentucky and his fifth of the season, finished .07 seconds behind in second.
“That was a thriller,” Kyle Busch said. “Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of the deal. Congratulations to Kurt and Chip.
“Obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes and (we have) been a part of a lot of them. None with my brother like that so that was a first.”
Erik Jones of JGR led one lap and finished third.
Rounding out the top five were Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch’s teammate at Ganassi, and Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch’s teammate.
That flash of lightning occurred late in Daytona’s 400-miler after Busch, in the lead, opted to pit for tires and fuel, believing the race would restart. It never did and Justin Haley, who did not pit, got the win.
“Whatever last week was, it’s this week right now,” Busch said. “We got the trophy.”
Joey Logano appeared to be cruising to victory with a multi-second lead over Kyle Busch with less than five laps to go, but a spin by Darrell Wallace of Richard Petty Racing brought out a yellow flag and set up an overtime shootout. Though the Team Penske driver and reigning champion led the restart, he finished seventh.
“We had the fastest cars and we didn’t win,” Logano said.
Kyle made his way to the front after the restart in overtime but was passed by his older brother. As they headed to the finish line, they banged doors and nearly wrecked. Both recovered but it was Kurt who took the checkered flag.
“We had a duel,” Kurt said. “We had a duel going through (turns) 3 and 4 and didn’t know who was going to come out on top.”
The weekend looked promising for winless Stewart-Haas Racing as two of its drivers — Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola — started the race first and second respectively while teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer started fifth and seventh.
Suarez led the first 49 laps before fading and finishing eighth. Bowyer led 40 before also fading, finishing sixth. Almirola finished 14th and Harvick 22nd, and SHR left Kentucky still winless in 2019.
Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson arrived at Kentucky with top-five finishes in the last two weeks but his hopes to end a winless streak that dates back to 2017 came to an end when he spun his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with fewer than 100 laps to go. He was running seventh at the time and finished 30th.
—Field Level Media