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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch wins at Martinsville Speedway

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at Martinsville Speedway after winning the First Data 500 on Oct. 29, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at Martinsville Speedway after winning the First Data 500 on Oct. 29, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Busch led a race-high 184 laps in the First Date 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday and took the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin after an overtime restart to claim his fifth win of the season and clinch his spot in the Championship Four, scheduled for Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“It’s just a great win for this whole M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry,” Busch said. “Awesome to get to victory lane here at Martinsville. You know I wanted to win Charlotte, Martinsville and Homestead, and that’ll make us this year’s champions, so we’ve got one more. Just wanted to say our guys did an awesome job preparing this car. We weren’t the best all day, but we put ourselves in the right spots there at the end and there was kind of chaos ensuing and none of it was our fault; we just came out on the right end of the stick. Can’t say enough about NOS Energy Drinks, Cessna, DVX Sunglasses. My son Brexton’s at home. He’s not here with us this weekend, so want to say hey to him; we’ll see you later tonight buddy. Looking forward to going to Homestead.”

Busch took his latest win under the lights Martinsville, as the still relatively new lights at NASCAR’s oldest track were turned one for the first time during a NASCAR national-level event for the final 100 laps of the race that was scheduled for 500 laps but extended to 505 laps.

Chase Elliott looked to be on his way to a first-career win before a spin into the wall resulting from contact from Denny Hamlin, bringing out the 11th and final caution of the race and sending the race into overtime.

“Yeah, well, he (Hamlin) came over and talked to me on the back straightaway, and he said somebody was pushing him, but it wasn’t two car lengths between him and the next guy,” Elliott said. “So, my Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice not to say anything at all. So, it’s not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas.”

Hamlin restarted with the lead, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Busch, alongside on the front row. Most of the race field wrecked on the final lap as Busch took the checkered flag. Hamlin was among those involved in the wreck, as was fifth-place finisher Kevin Harvick. Harvick took his top-five finish sideways.

“It’s just Martinsville,” Harvick said. ”That’s what it’s all about. It’s championship time.  It’s time to get physical. I’ve just got to thank everybody on my Busch Non-Alcoholic Ford, Jimmy John’s, Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers, Morton Buildings, Textron Off Road, everybody who helps this car go around the race track. I really want to help all of my guys at Stewart-Haas Racing. They built this car in two weeks and we were way more competitive than we were in the spring. Bent fenders, hurt feelings. I love it.”

Martin Truex Jr. finished second, Clint Bowyer was third and Brad Keselowski fourth.

Keselowski won both of the 130-lap stages that made up the first 260 laps of the race.

“We had a really great Alliance Truck Parts Ford,” Keselowski said. ”We were able to lead laps and win the two stages and bring home a solid finish, and that’s something to be proud of.”

He and Team Penske teammate and pole sitter Joey Logano combined to lead all laps until Jimmie Johnson took the lead by staying out during a lap 87 caution after pitting during the previous caution on lap 62.

Keselowski, with newer tires, got back to the front and retook the lead on lap 114.

Busch got his first lead of the race by getting out of the pits first during the caution that separated the first from the second stage. He, then, led almost the entire second stage, but Keselowski retook the top spot in the final three laps of the stage for his second stage win of the day.

Busch, again, got off pit road first between the second and third stages, just past the halfway points of the race, to retake the lead.

Elliott took his first lead of the race by passing Busch on lap 324. During a lap 360 caution for Lason Cassill, Elliott lost the lead by being third off pit road. Meanwhille, Keselowski reassumed the lead by getting off pit road first and Busch was second.

Elliott retook the lead, taking the spot from Keselowski, on lap 385.

Elliott’s car smoked as the result of a tire rub with about 50 laps remaining, but a caution came out for Carl Long a few laps later, allowing Elliott, along with everyone else, to pit under yellow to remedy the problem. Elliott was first out of the pits to maintain his race lead.

He lost the lead to Keselowski with just under 30 laps remaining, but retook the lead from Keselowski after a physical battle inside the final 10 laps.

After his late-race wreck, Elliott wound up with a 27th-place finish, worst of the eight remaining playoff drivers. Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson, also finished outside the top-10 in 12th. They were the only two playoff drivers outside the top-10 at the checkered flag.

“We were just terrible all day,” Johnson said. ”Oh, what a bummer. We had high hopes for this weekend. Man, it just didn’t turn out so well. So, we scored some points here and there.  We will go to the next one and try to get more.”

Finishing sixth through 10th were Trevor Bayne, Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 30, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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