Kyle Busch tasted victory for the third time this NASCAR Sprint Cup season winning Saturday night in the GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas Speedway. Busch fought off Kevin Harvick in the final 20 laps to distance himself in taking his first Kansas victory after 17 previous starts triumphing by 1.112 seconds now giving him 37 wins in NASCAR’s premier series.
It was with 26 laps to go when the last caution waved as a result from a major crash between Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano in turn three. As the trio was entering the turn, Hamlin made a move plowing through the middle never touching Keselowski, but caused his Penske Ford suddenly to lose grip with a slow spin to the inside. The disturbance of the air then sent Hamlin sideways pinning Larson against the wall later being T-boned by Logano as he went high to avoid the accident.
The green flag waved for the final time with 19 laps remaining with Busch blasting off with Kevin Harvick close behind, who did make a couple of attempts at the lead. Busch, racing on older tires last pitting on lap 211 with 56 to go, began driving away from the competition seemingly never showing a flaw in his driving.
“It’s pretty big,” said Busch, who now has won eight races in his last 32 events adding Kansas Speedway to his win list. “There’s been a lot of rough days at Kansas and a lot of good ones, too! Through the beginning and middle part of the race we weren’t great. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the team kept digging and working on it. The 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) was probably the fastest car but we kept ourselves in the game. It was pretty impressive.”
Busch felt comfortable staying out the last caution and wasn’t concerned about fuel preferring to gain track position as they have done numerous times before.
“I thought clean air was best,” said Busch. “I know we had some laps on our tires but I still thought our car was really good out front. Then Harvick hounded me for a few laps and he raced me really clean. He had one opportunity especially off (turn) four and I kind of cut him off. When you’re clear, you’re clear. You take that chance.”
Harvick accepted his runner-up position after he lost some of his handling properties had at times one of the strongest cars in the field.
“For some reason I got tight,” said Harvick describing his last effort to chase down Busch. “I hit a big piece of debris (turn two) over there with about six or seven laps from the end and the car got really tight. It knocked a big hunk out of the nose and knocked the splitter down.”
Pole sitter, Truex, Jr. had the inklings of a great night shaping up leading a pace setting 172 laps only to suffer from a loose right front wheel consequential from his green flag stop on lap 212. He quickly pitted on 215 to correct the problem but by then he had dropped to 21st, a lap down.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said a disappointed Truex after finishing 14th. “I went around one and two and it’s like, ‘damn wheel is loose’. I kept telling myself, maybe it’s not, and it’s just shaking because it has tape on it or something stupid.
“It was loose. I could tell right away. It’s frustrating, but that’s how it goes. If we keep bringing cars like this, we’re going to win some. It’s just frustrating when you’ve had it happen so many times in your career.”
Now with Busch leading the series with three wins and first in the Chase, his victory at Kansas only leaves Pocono Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway as the two remaining tracks he will be seeking to come victorious in the upcoming weeks.
The top five after Busch, were Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth with his best finish of the season in fourth, and Ryan Blaney in fifth, a career best.
The average speed of the GoBowling.com 400 was 141.909 mph. The race had six caution flags for 30 laps. There were 16 lead changes among 10 drivers.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup event comes up on Sunday on May 15, for the running of the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. The race will air on FOX Sports 1at 1 p.m. EDT.