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BMS night race still the most exciting stop on NASCAR circuit

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 19, 2018 at 7:28 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — It's still the greatest show on concrete.

The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway lived up to its reputation as the most exciting race and racetrack on the NASCAR circuit.

Kurt Busch won for the sixth time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol and scored his 30th win overall, taking the lead from teammate Clint Bowyer on a late-race restart and then holding off pole-sitter Kyle Larson, who won the previous night's Xfinity Series race, for the win.

But it was the driving of Busch’s younger brother, Kyle Busch, that once again had the crowd on its feet, whether they were cheering or jeering him.

Kyle Busch got loose on lap 2 and caused a multicar pileup that took out Darrell Wallace Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger, among others.

Kyle Busch lost two laps in the pits as his team made repairs, but the charge he made afterward was something to behold.

He consistently ran faster laps than the leaders and came back from nearly three laps down to get back on the lead lap. From the 20th position at the point, he worked his way into the top 10, then the top five and eventually to second place.

But that move to second spurred a ton of controversy when Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota got into the No. 78 Toyota of defending NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr.

Truex's car slammed into the inside retaining wall then ricocheted back on the track, where he hit J.J. Yeley's oncoming car, sending it to a violent crash.

"Totally my fault, man, I feel terrible about that,” Kyle Busch said. “Obviously I just misjudged it by a little bit — 4 inches, 6 inches, and was going to slide in behind (Truex).

“I clipped him and sent him for a whale of a ride. I hated that I clipped him; I know he could have had a good shot to win the race, too."

Truex wasn't happy with the way Kyle Busch raced him and neither were the fans, including one who tried to fight the driver outside the track following the race.

When Kyle Busch, the biggest villain in the NASCAR world, crashed his own car on lap 480 after cutting a tire, the grandstands erupted with cheers.

"We probably finished where we should have anyway with as torn up as our race car is," he said. "We had a shot to be able to come back there and win the race realistically.

“If it wasn't for getting mixed up with the 37 (Chris Buescher) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), I think I could have got to the front. We were certainly going to way overachieve tonight, but we just didn't get to."

Larson did overachieve, taking what he felt was a 12th-place car to finish second. He credited all the excitement to the racetrack and said if the series raced every week at Bristol or a similar place, there would be no issues with fan attendance or television ratings.

"Bristol is an awesome place," Larson said. "If we could race here every Saturday and Sunday, our grandstands would be packed, our TV ratings would be very high. Let's build more Bristols."

The race winner agreed. Kurt Busch noted that every time he looked in his rearview mirror, there was a different car behind him.

The race featured 19 lead changes among nine drivers. Not counted were the hundreds or thousands of changes of position throughout the field.

"This place brings out the best in everybody," Kurt Busch said. "When you come to the holy grail of short tracks, you want to win. The Saturday night short-track atmosphere brings out the best in you. The race was incredible."

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