Kurt Busch wins the Bass Pro Shops | NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Kurt Busch

It was a Busch in the victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway, but this time it wasn’t Kyle. Instead, it was older brother Kurt, winless in the last 58 starts, going back to his victory at the Daytona 500 in 2017, who outlasted Friday’s Xfinity race winner and contender Kyle Larson for the victory in the Bass Pro Shops | NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Busch elected to stay out and duel the Chip Ganassi driver, after Larson pitted and took on fresh tires, determined to make the sweep at Bristol this weekend. In the end, Larson just didn’t have the mileage on the new tires to challenge Kurt Busch for the top spot and eventually finished second to the Stewart-Haas driver.

The win was a big one for Kurt Busch as it puts him into the playoffs in a season that could be his last for Stewart-Haas.

“It was awesome to be in this position tonight,” replied Busch following the victory. “When your at a short track, it brings back memories.  My dad is here tonight and this is just an awesome win for us.”

The win was so exciting for Busch, he drove off without his helmet, the checkered flag and his gloves given to him at the finish of the race.

“To drive to victory on one of my favorite tracks and do it the hard way, with the team effort, it’s awesome.”

Kurt Busch

The win also capped off some of the most exciting Bristol racing seen on the high banks in some time.  Second place finisher Kyle Larson expressed his disappointment in losing out for the win but was still happy with a second place finish.

Larson was frank when he talked about the action on the high banks of the World’s Fastest Half Mile on Saturday night.

“I like what they’ve done with Bristol, it’s a badass place.” He concluded his post-race comments with “Let’s build more Bristols.”

The win was special for car manufacturer Ford.  The win by Kurt Busch was the 100th win for Ford in the Fusion body, as the Fusion body will be jettisoned at the end of season in favor of the Mustang body for 2019.

It was also win number one for Busch’s crew chief Billy Scott and his young team.

Of the Big Three, as they have been heralded this 2018 season, Kevin Harvick was the highest finishing driver after Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. got involved in a late race incident that saw Kyle Busch tap Truex and send him spinning out and out of contention.

Truex was to the point in his comments following his trip to the infield care center.

“I got hit in the left rear. Pretty simple  It’s Bristol.”

But Kyle Busch’s evening almost ended as fast as the green flag flew.

On lap two, Busch was involved in a early melee with Bubba Wallace, who finished 38th, and several laps down. Busch received damage to his rear bumper area and drove the rest of the night with no bumper cover but charged back to get his laps back and contend for a top spot before the incident occured with Truex.

Ryan Blaney established himself early with a Stage One win beating out Kevin Harvick in a photo finish. But the action got more exciting as the night went on.

On lap 138, Chase Elliott took the lead from Kevin Harvick but the Stewart-Haas driver picked up debris on lap 184 and radioed that he felt like he had a tire going down.

On lap 193, Elliott loses the lead to Blaney, with clean contact and the Penske driver was challenged by Aric Almirola when Ford driver David Ragan took a spin, missing the wall but bringing out the caution again on the night. Almirola would get the tag for getting into the back of Ragan and spinning him around.

Penske Ford driver Brad Keselowski would also spin after a tire went down, taking him out of contention for the win and finishing 16th. Kurt Busch would lose a left rear tire late in the race and all but dash his chances at a comeback in the night race, much to the shagrin of the fans present in The Last Great Colosseum.

With the Kurt Busch victory, the Las Vegas, native is in the NASCAR Playoffs along with his brother Kyle.  And despite his 16th place finish, Brad Keselowski and teammate Ryan Blaney also get into the playoffs as well as Kyle Larson.

It now leaves just two places open with two races to go before the playoffs begin after Indianapolis.

Tonight’s race was Busch’s 30th victory in 636 starts and his first victory and 15th top ten this season.  It was his sixth victory at Bristol, and his 18th top ten finish in ten races at BMS and his 13th top 10 finish in 2018.

Kyle Larson posted his sixth top ten finish in ten races at BMS.  It was his 13th top 10 finish this season.  Fellow Chevrolet driver Chase Elliott posted his third top ten finish in six races at BMS.

While Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron was the highest finishing rookie.

Kyle Busch leads the point standings by 43 points over Kevin Harvick.

Next for the series, it’s a one week layover before traveling to The Lady in Black, Darlington as it will be the retro weekend race on Labor Day weekend in South Carolina.

After Darlington, the action moves to Indianapolis and the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the race at the Brickyard.

Top Ten Finishing Order at Bristol – Bass Pro Shops | NRA Night Race

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Chase Elliott
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Erik Jones
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Alex Bowman
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Kevin Harvick

Other Notables

Trevor Bayne had his best finish of the year in 11th for Roush-Fenway Racing. Ryan Newman finished 12th while teammate Austin Dillon, whose car failed pre-race inspection three times, finished 13th.

Denny Hamlin finished 14th and earned the ire of fellow teammate Kyle Busch for “not getting out of the way” during his late race charge to the front.  Kyle Busch finished 20th, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished 24th, Martin Truex, Jr. 30th, Paul Menard, 37th and Bubba Wallace finished 38th after the lap two incident at the beginning of the race.

There were nine caution laps for 70 laps and 19 lead changes among 9 drivers.

By Rod Mullins | Augusta Free Press

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