Kyle Busch outruns brother Kurt to checkered flag in Food City 500

Published 8:38 am Tuesday, April 9, 2019

BRISTOL— There’s nothing like a little sibling rivalry to make things interesting especially when chasing each other around an oval over 100-plus miles an hour trying to win a NASCAR race at the Last Great Colosseum—Bristol Motor Speedway.

That’s exactly what transpired on Sunday when brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch elected to stay on the track during a late caution and when the flag fell to restart the race with 15 laps remaining the battle was on.

It was nip and tuck to the end before Kyle finally got enough distance to beat Kurt to the finish line to win his eighth NASCAR Cup race at the track and the third win out of the last four races at the fastest half-mile oval.

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The victory was also Busch’s 54th win in the NASCAR Cup Series and number 204 in all three major series.

“I don’t know, we are crazy,” said Busch about the confidence in the decision to stay out during the last caution. “We just do what we do—try to win.

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys and get out here and win today here at Bristol. Love this place.

“It was fun to battle out the brother there at the end,” Busch continued. “I saw him working the top and I’m like, I better go.”

While Kyle admitted that he didn’t expect to see his brother there with him at the end due to the struggles Kurt was having during qualifying, Kurt proved that he was just as hungry for the win as his brother.

“I really wanted to beat him,” said Kurt. “I was going to wreck him. I wanted to stay close enough so when we took the exit, I was going to drive straight into three and four.

“I’m happy that we were in position to do it. This group of guys—we’re not quite ready to win yet, but this was close. I was going to wreck my little brother to win today. With three laps to go, stepped out in turn one, and I wasn’t close enough after that.”

Kyle took the comment made by his brother and turned it into a chuckle for the media saying that Kurt was going to have to be able to catch him before he could wreck him.

The 500-lap event had 21 lead changes over the course of the race with 9 different leaders. Ryan Blaney led 3 times for a race-leading 158 laps while Joey Logano pushed his Team Penske No. 22 Autotrader Ford Mustang car out front for 146 laps while leading 5 times.

Kyle Busch led 71 laps of the race leading 3 times including the lap that mattered the most. Brad Keselowski (40), Chase Elliott (38), Clint Bowyer (24), Erik Jones (10), Denny Hamlin (7), and Ty Dillon (6) were the other race leaders.

There were 11 cautions that entailed 77 laps of racing.

Probably the most disappointed driver of the day was Chase Elliott who put his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet on the pole for the race but ended up getting spun around in Stage 1 of the race and then ended up battling power steering issues for the remainder of the racing settling for an 11th place finish.

Elliott relayed to his team early on that his arms were going to fall off from the battle with an idea that a relief driver might have to step in later in the race before Elliott was able to finish all 500 laps.

Logano, who crossed the finished line in third place, felt like he was in position to take the win at the end.

“Right at the end there I thought when we got by the No. 2 I said, “If I can just hold him off that’s the pass for the win”,” said Logano. “I was pretty confident we were gonna be able to do that for 15 laps or so and then the caution came out and what do you do?

“Do you pit? Do you stay out? You know a few of them are going to stay out. It’s really hard to pass and by the time I got to third those cars were so far ahead of me I was stuck and was not going to get to them.”

Things could have been different for Kyle as he suffered rear-end damage from being spun out in the first few laps of the race but remained patient to work his way to the front—something that car owner Joe Gibbs said was something that comes from Busch’s deep desire to compete.

“He has that competitive spirit that we all admire,” said Gibbs of his driver. “With (Crew Chief) Adam (Stevens) and Kyle—they know how to fight through adversity,

“It’s very hard to win here. Our whole family was here. It’s a big deal for us.”

The remaining top ten included Ryan Blaney (4), Denny Hamlin (5), Paul Menard (6), Clint Bowyer (7), Daniel Suarez (8), Ryan Newman (9), and Jimmie Johnson (10).