Kyle Busch grabs first Kansas win
Kyle Busch leads Ryan Blaney in the GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 7, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Amanda Vincent
It can no longer be said that Kyle Busch hasn’t won at Kansas Speedway. Busch crossed the track near Kansas City, Kan., off the list of tracks at which he’s winless in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Saturday night with his win of the GoBowling.com
400. The Kansas win leaves only Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., as track at which the reigning Sprint Cup champion is still winless.
“This is pretty big. Man, there’s been a lot of rough days here at Kansas; that’s for sure,” Busch said. “A lot of good ones, too, but I just can’t say enough about this team and everyone on this M&Ms Camry. This thing was awesome tonight. At the beginning and middle part of the race, we weren’t great, but (crew chief) Adam Stevens and the guys, they just kept working on it.”
The win also his Busch’s third of the season, making him the winningest driver after 11 races of the 36-race schedule.
To claim his latest win, Busch had to hold off Kevin Harvick on newer tires. Harvick battled Busch closely after the final restart with 19 laps to go, but inside the final five laps, Harvick faded and Busch was able to pull away to the win.
“Having to hold off Harvick, I thought I was going to battle my teammate, Matt Kenseth,” Busch said. “I’m not sure what happened to him, but raced Harvick really, really hard and really, really clean. They did a great job. He had a chance, probably, to rough me up a little bit off turn four, there, but he chose to be the veteran and champion that he iis, and we raced it out, and we raced it clean.”
Harvick maintained to finish second, while Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five.
“It’s our best finish of the year, so that’s the bright side,” Kenseth said. “I’m sort of happy for Kyle and Adam, but seriously happy for everyone at JGR.”
Just as he did last year, Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race before a pit stop took him out of contention. In 2015, Truex led nearly 100 laps before having to pit for fuel late in the race. This time around, he was even more dominant, leading 172 laps before a bolt got trapped between a hub and brake caliper during a cycle of green-flag pit stops just past lap 200 of the 267-lap race. The issue resulted in an additional stop during the cycle that put Truex a lap down. He got back on the lead lap during the final caution of the race and wound up 14th at the finish.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Truex said. “Went around (turns) one and two and was like, ‘Wheels loose.’ I kept telling myself that maybe it’s not me; maybe it’s just shaking because it has tape on it or something stupid. It was loose, and I knew it right away. Frustrating, but that’s how it goes.”
Kyle Busch, who led laps early in the race after taking two tires to Truex and others’ four, return to the lead after Truex’s troubles and led 69 laps, total, en route to the Kansas win.
During a lap 233 caution for debris, Busch and Kenseth stayed out while everyone else pitted. Busch was able to remain up front, while Kenseth lost a handful of positions on the restart. Kenseth was back up in second, though, when the drivers who passed him wrecked racing for positions right behind Busch. The multi-car wreck with about 25 laps to go involved Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.
“I’m just proud of Adam Stevens on my pit box,” Busch said. “I knew our car was really good. I knew our car was best out front. I had trouble in traffic all night long. I wasn’t the best at being able to pick my way through that stuff, but when we had green-flag pit stops, I got some good holes and was able to make some good time, but the call to stay out was a no-brainer and it certainly worked out for us.”
Austin Dillon finished sixth, Ryan Newman was seventh, A.J. Allmendinger eighth, Chase Elliott ninth, and Keselowski was 10th.