Home Kyle Busch makes it a sweep at Bristol

Kyle Busch makes it a sweep at Bristol

Rod Mullins

Break out the broom; the sweep has been made for the second time at Bristol by Kyle Busch.

kyle buschRowdy first did it in 2010 and on Saturday night, he did again by completing the weekend sweep of the Truck, Xfinity and the 57th Annual Bass Pro SHops NRA Night Race Monster Energy Cup Race.

Busch picked up his 40th victory in 450 Monster Energy Cup Series races, his second victory on the season and notching his 14th top 10 finish in 2017.

After his victory burnout, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver climbed out of his racecar, stood on the track and put his fingers to his ears to encourage the cheers and jeers from the Rowdy Nation and the fans.

Then to better illustrate the point, he climbed atop his M&M’s Toyota Camry with a broom and swept the car to drive the point home, that he had made the sweep at the World’s Fastest Half Mile.

Busch picked up his sixth career win at Bristol on Saturday night and his 14th top-10 finish in 25 Bristol races, in addition to his second sweep of Bristol since 2010.

Busch took Stage 1 of the event while teammate Matt Kenseth took Stage 2 of the event. But the best racing of the night was reserved for the final stage with less than 70 to go as Busch, series rookie and pole sitter Erik Jones and Kenseth battled to take the lead in the closing laps of the event.  Jones looked for every bit of real estate he could find on the Bristol high banks, going to the low groove, back to high grove, slicing to the middle, anything to cut the interval between Busch and himself.

At one point Jones took the lead but a hard charging Busch was using all the real estate he could minus when not being held up by lapped traffic.

Busch won the race on the final 79-lap green-flag run, “Rowdy” crossed the finish line 1.422 seconds ahead of Jones, who continues to impress in his rookie season in the Monster Cup Series.  The Michigan rookie finished second after getting the pole and posted his first top-10 finish in two races at Bristol Motor Speedway while picking up his ninth top-10 of 2017.

“Man, Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” replied Busch following the 500 lap race that saw 21 lead changes among six drivers. Busch told members of the media following the victory lane celebration, “That’s all I had. I was running with my tongue hanging out. My arms were Jello and my throat hurts, but man that’s awesome.”

Busch led a total of 156 laps but Jones, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender led 260 laps but yet came up empty handed in search of his first Cup win.

And while Jones and and JGR driver Matt Kenseth both came up empty handed with a win, Jones gets set to replace Kenseth at the end of the 2017 season at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I love Erik Jones, he’s a phenomenal talent,” emphasized Busch.  “He raced me clean and he’s going to win a lot and when he does, he going to get on a roll.”

But Busch wasn’t just basking the glow of the Bristol Sweep, he was handing out kudos and compliments across the board on the win.

“Can’t say enough about everybody on my Joe Gibbs Racing team. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the guys are phenomenal. The car might not have been perfect, but I’m never perfect. I never feel like we’re perfect, but this Caramel Camry was fast. So proud of these guys, so proud of my team, so proud of Joe Gibbs Racing. So proud of Rowdy Nation, this one’s for you.”

Other notables included Chesterfield, VA’s Denny Hamlin finishing 3rd and giving Joe Gibbs Racing a “sweep” so to speak of their own with Matt Kenseth finishing fourth. Toyota grabbed the top four finishing spots on the night.

Kyle’s brother Kurt Busch was the highest finishing Ford, driving the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion to a fifth place finish with Ryan Newman placing his Richard Childress Chevrolet in the sixth position.

Knoxville’s Trevor Bayne did not get the Bristol victory he wanted but the Roush/Fenway driver finished seventh with Kevin Harvick placing eighth, Kyle Larson in the Chip Ganassi Chevrolet finished ninth and Ryan Blaney in the  Wood Brothers Ford, finished 10th.

After his spin late in the race that brought out another caution, Dawsonville, GA’s Chase Elliott, finished 18th. Series point leader Martin Truex Jr finished the race 21st after starting sixth but maintains a 107 point lead over Kyle Busch heading into the next two races before the Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs.

It was a disappointing night for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as the driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet finished 23rd.  Although much of the early pre-race festivities were geared toward honoring Junior as he heads into retirement, it was another disappointing finish for the 88 team.

There were eight caution flags for 53 laps on the night and 21 lead changes among six drivers.

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series takes this weekend off as racing resumes on Labor Day weekend, September 3 in Darlington, SC at the famed Darlington Raceway.

By Rod Mullins/Augusta Free Press

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.