Kurt Busch outduels little brother to win at Kentucky
SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — Kurt Busch finally beat his little brother in a head-to-head NASCAR finish and took his new team to victory lane a week after they coughed away their first win.
The downside of Busch’s big win Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway?
Kyle Busch didn’t stick around to give his older brother a promised ride home.
“I was supposed to fly home with him and now I’m looking for a plane ride,” Kurt Busch laughed. “That’s Kyle. He won’t even wait.”
Kurt Busch certainly wanted to flaunt his trophy after beating his brother in a door-to-door overtime battle. Kurt Busch was the victor — the first time in three 1-2 finishes for the Busch Brothers that Kyle did not win — and earned a playoff spot with his first win for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“My little brother gave me just enough room. It was like ‘You gonna lift? I ain’t gonna lift. You gonna lift? I ain’t gonna lift.’ And we had a duel,” Busch said. “We had a duel going down through (turns) 3 and 4, and I didn’t know who was going to come out on top.”
Kyle Busch settled for second after a dramatic ending in which the brothers banged their cars and both nearly lost control as they hurtled toward the checkered flag.
“I’m glad it was a thriller, just unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal,” Kyle Busch said. “It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes, and been a part of a lot of them … none with my brother like that, so that was a first.
“You know, no hard feelings, and we move on.”
The showdown came a week after Kurt Busch lost at Daytona because he pitted from the lead moments before weather stopped the race. That pit call haunted Busch and his crew chief all week, but a late call for four tires gave the No. 1 team a shot at redemption.
Logano and Kyle Busch lined up side-by-side on the restart for what was expected to be a race for the victory, but both Erik Jones and Kurt Busch shoved their cars into the mix for an intense final two laps. Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch touched as they raced for the lead, both cars wiggled, and it appeared Kurt Busch was headed into the wall.
But he recovered to squeeze past his brother right before the checkered flag.
“He could have clobbered us against the wall, and third place probably would have got it,” Kurt Busch said of the contact with Kyle Busch. “What an awesome run.”
Team owner Chip Ganassi called into victory lane from Toronto, where he’s with his IndyCar team. The victory is the third straight of the season for Chevrolet and first in nine races at Kentucky. It ended a two-race Kentucky winning streak for Martin Truex Jr. and Toyota.
The finish was fitting considering the first two stages belonged to the Busch brothers. Kurt won the first 80-lap segment while Kyle Busch won the second.
In the end, Kurt Busch claimed the most important stage and bragging rights with a dogged run on the top side to spark a wild celebration and burnout on the frontstretch. His Ganassi crew, maligned all week for the horrible Daytona pit call, rushed to greet him and he dove into their arms. The crew then rode on his Chevrolet to victory lane, one lone member waving the checkered flag.
Busch led four times for 41 laps after starting fourth.
Suarez led 52 laps and finished a rollercoaster night on an up note. A bad pit call for four tires dropped him to 14th and he was later penalized for speeding on pit road.
STRUGGLING: Austin Dillon (35th) posted his second consecutive finish of 33rd or worse in his No. 3 Chevy.
UP NEXT: NASCAR travels to Loudon, New Hampshire next Sunday, where Kevin Harvick nudged Kyle Busch late to win last July.