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Kurt Busch holds off Larson for Bristol victory

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 18, 2018 at 11:50 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Overshadowed most of the night by his younger brother, Kurt Busch grabbed the spotlight and won Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Driving the No. 41 Ford, Busch took the lead from teammate Clint Bowyer on a restart with 23 laps to go and then held off Kyle Larson on another late restart. It was his sixth career win at Bristol but first since 2006.

It was the 2004 NASCAR champion’s first win of the season, his first since winning the 2017 Daytona 500 and the 30th of his career. It was also the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win for his crew chief, Billy Scott.

“It’s awesome to do it at Bristol. To get to victory lane at my favorite track and do it the hard way, going inside, outside, all this damage, I’m just so proud,” Busch said. “We had good restarts when we had to, and then you’ve got to get clever and throw everything at it. This is one of the sweetest wins ever.”

Larson finished runner-up for the second straight Bristol race after losing a late-race battle to Kyle Busch in April. Larson, who started from the pole, felt it was track position more than his No. 42 Chevrolet that allowed him to have such a high finish.

“I got lucky lining up in the right lanes,” Larson said. “I had two runs where the leaders were a half-straightaway from lapping me. I’m so happy to finish second, but it was probably the most frustrating Bristol race I’ve had because I didn’t feel like I had a shot to win.”

Chase Elliott finished third in a Chevrolet, followed by Joey Logano in a Ford and Erik Jones in a Toyota. It was Elliott’s third top-10 finish in six Bristol races.

Bowyer and Ryan Blaney finished sixth and seventh in Fords, followed by Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10.

KYLE’S ADVENTURES

Busch’s younger brother, Kyle, caused much of the night’s excitement.

Kyle Busch spun out on lap 2 of the race, causing a multicar accident that caught up defending series champion Martin Truex Jr., Darrell Wallace Jr. and several others.

Kyle Busch was racing to the inside of Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 car before losing control coming off turn 4. He spun in front of a pack of cars behind him, giving them nowhere to go. He suffered body damage to his No. 18 Toyota but still consistently ran laps faster than the leaders.

Kyle Busch was back on the lead lap at the end of stage 2, moved into the top 10 on lap 339 and reached the top five on lap 397.

His most controversial moment came while battling Truex for second. Contact between the two sent Truex’s No. 78 Toyota into the inside retaining wall and then into the No. 7 of JJ Yeley, who slammed hard into the wall in the middle of turn 2.

“Totally my fault, 4 inches, 6 inches or whatever it was, I misjudged it,” Kyle Busch said. “I didn’t mean to him, but I just clipped him.”

Truex was upset after the race, kicking the side of his Toyota when he got out of the car.

“I got hit in the left rear, pretty simple. It’s a shame. We had a good thing going,” he said. “It’s just Bristol. This place has been so hard on us.”

Kyle Busch crashed on lap 482, sending the crowd into a frenzy. He finished 20th, three laps down after getting stuck at the bottom of the apron with his tire cut.

CLOSE COMPETITION

Blaney edged Harvick in a photo finish to win the first stage of the race. The margin was .003 of a second, literally a win of inches. Logano held off Chase Elliott in another close battle to win stage 2.

The race featured 19 lead changes among nine drivers. Blaney led three times for 121 laps, followed by Bowyer with 120 laps led, Elliott with 112 and Logano with 95.

EAST TENNESSEE CONNECTIONS

Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne finished 11th in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford after getting as high as fourth. Sevierville driver Blake Jones wound up 27th in the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota, achieving a goal of a top-30 finish set before the race.

Jesse Little, whose mother is from Kingsport, was caught up in the lap 2 accident. He finished 35th after completing 59 laps in his No. 96 Toyota.


Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Results

Saturday

At Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tenn.

Lap length: 0.533 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (9) Kurt Busch, Ford, 500 laps, 46 points.

2. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 5048.

3. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500, 50.

4. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 500, 45.

5. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, 500, 39.

6. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500, 44.

7. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 500, 46.

8. (22) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500, 30.

9. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500, 32.

10. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500, 36.

11. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500, 26.

12. (24) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500, 25.

13. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500, 24.

14. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500, 23.

15. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500, 22.

16. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 499, 21.

17. (15) David Ragan, Ford, 499, 20.

18. (21) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 499, 19.

19. (28) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 499, 18.

20. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 497, 17.

21. (32) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 496, 16.

22. (29) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 496, 15.

23. (5) William Byron, Chevrolet, 496, 14.

24. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 495, 13.

25. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 493, 12.

26. (35) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 492, 0.

27. (40) Blake Jones, Toyota, 485, 10.

28. (37) Timmy Hill, Ford, 481, 0.

29. (20) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 435, 8.

30. (17) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, accident, 431, 7.

31. (8) Aric Almirola, Ford, 428, 19.

32. (34) JJ Yeley, Toyota, accident, 423, 0.

33. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, accident, 338, 4.

34. (30) Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet, electrical, 234, 3.

35. (33) Jesse Little, Toyota, accident, 59, 0.

36. (4) Paul Menard, Ford, accident, 28, 1.

37. (31) Michael McDowell, Ford, accident, 10, 1.

38. (27) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, accident, 3, 1.

39. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, accident, 1, 1.

40. (38) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, accident, 1, 1.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 89.543 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 58 minutes, 35 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.367 seconds.

Caution Flags: 9 for 70 laps.

Lead Changes: 19 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K.Larson 1-13; K.Harvick 14-15; K.Larson 16; R.Blaney 17-62; K.Larson 63; R.Blaney 64-130; A.Almirola 131; K.Harvick 132-137; C.Elliott 138-191; R.Blaney 192-199; A.Almirola 200; J.Logano 201-254; K.Larson 255; J.Logano 256-296; C.Elliott 297-354; K.Larson 355; C.Bowyer 356-441; R.Newman 442; C.Bowyer 443-476; Ku.Busch 477-500

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): R.Blaney, 3 times for 118 laps; C.Bowyer, 2 times for 118 laps; C.Elliott, 2 times for 110 laps; J.Logano, 2 times for 93 laps; Ku.Busch, 1 time for 23 laps; K.Larson, 5 times for 12 laps; K.Harvick, 2 times for 6 laps; A.Almirola, 2 times for 0 laps; R.Newman, 1 time for 0 laps.

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