Take a bow: Kyle Busch captures Quaker State 400 for second win

Kyle Busch’s championship hopes remain very much alive after he scored a decisive victory in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Busch drove his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota past Joey Logano with 20 laps to go to win his second Sprint Cup race of the year and the 31st of his career. Busch led 163 of 267 laps in a race that featured a record 11 cautions and lots of tight racing in the first test of NASCAR’s new low-downforce aero package.

"That right there is what we’ve got to do," Busch said in Victory Lane. "Just to score as many points as we possibly can. To score those wins, that’s what’s going to get us to where we need to be. We led the most laps and we won the race, so that’s all you can score. We’ll just continue to push on and thrive."

Logano held on to finish second in his Team Penske Ford, followed by Busch’s JGR teammates, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. In his final appearance at Kentucky, Jeff Gordon was seventh.

"Second just hurts, you know?" said Logano. "When you’re that close to winning them, but we’re still proud of what we did today. We had a fast car, we’ve improved our speed."

Edwards, Busch’s teammate who finished fourth, gave high marks to the new low-downforce package that NASCAR raced for the first time. "This package, we need to keep going in this direction," said Edwards. "We could race closer together. I was steering right. We were using the whole car. We just need to keep taking downforce away. It was an awesome show."

With the victory, Busch became the fifth driver this season to win multiple races, joining Jimmie Johnson, Kyle’s brother Kurt, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The younger Busch still must race his way into the top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Under clear Kentucky skies, Kyle Larson started from the pole, flanked by Brad Keselowski. But as early as Lap 15, Keselowski led Gordon by more than three econds.

Busch took the lead on Lap 32 during a competition caution, with Keselowski restarting 11th, because the Penske driver took four fresh tires, while most of those ahead of him changed just two. By Lap 45, though, Keselowski was up to fifth, and 10 laps later he worked his way to third.

Dale vs. Danica: Earnhardt Jr., Patrick tangle in Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Keselowski continued to move up, and was second, less than a second behind Busch on Lap 75.

After a caution period for a Paul Menard wallbanger, Keselowski set out after Busch, putting a slide job on the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to go back out front on Lap 95.

During a pit stop on Lap 124, Keselowski’s front-tire carrier lost control of a tire and fell in front of the Penske Ford, costing the driver nine positions on pit road and handing the lead back to Busch.

At Lap 134, the halfway point of the race, Busch led Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, David Ragan and Keselowski.

Earnhardt Jr., who had fought brake issues all night, tapped Danica Patrick on Lap 206, causing a record-tying 10th caution. This time, Hamlin won the race off pit road over teammates Busch and Edwards, with Keselowski sixth.

On the restart, Hamlin held off a furious charge from his teammates to pull into the lead, with Logano moving to second.

Larson was the next to bring out a caution and this time it was Logano who went to the lead over Busch.

But as the laps wound down, Busch started to catch Logano, and the two engaged in a titanic battle for the top spot. With 20 laps to go, Busch finally worked his way past Logano to take the lead. And from there, he held on to win.

VIDEO: Brad Keselowski’s tire carrier encounters problems on a costly pit stop