Busch Brothers finish 1-2 in Sonoma
Kyle Busch edged his brother Kurt by 0.532 seconds to win today's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. It was the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of 2015 for the driver of the #18 M&M's Crispy Toyota and fourth career win on a road course and first since sustaining a gruesome leg injury at Daytona in February.
Kurt Busch led much of the early going having taken the lead from pole sitter A.J. Allmendinger midway through lap one. However, Busch surrendered the lead to Jimmie Johnson as he opted for a three-stop strategy, when he pit on lap 53.
Also, many running behind Johnson including Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Bowyer took the opportunity to take fresh tires, as the #48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet stayed on the track.
Busch restarting in seventh made quick work of drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who stayed out, and then ultimately, Johnson. Busch then held off his fast-closing brother to earn career victory #30.
Harvick leaves Sonoma holding a 53-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. It was a rather forgettable day for the driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, who was sent to the garage after contact with David Ragan. Truex returned to the track but finished 42nd, 79 laps down.
Finishing Position: 1st
What does it mean to get this win?
"This is awesome - it's unbelievable. Can't say enough about my team, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. I can't say enough about my medical team that got me back in shape and ready to go behind the wheel. And my brother (Kurt Busch), he certainly was hard on Clint (Bowyer) and I think certainly gave me a ten lengths and then gave me another eight. Man, I can't say enough about M&M's and their support - they've been behind me so much through the years - not just this year but through the years. M&M's Crispy has done an awesome job this year and we have an exciting thing coming out in Kentucky, so I'm excited about that - the promotion is pretty neat. Interstate Batteries, Skittles, Pedigree, Snickers, Sprint - thanks to Sprint for all the years that they've been here and of course the fans. It's pretty cool. I pulled up here and blew the tires and the thing wouldn't make the turn (into victory lane) and I blew the rear tires off of it. I was like, ‘Alright, park it right here and we'll walk in.' Walking in on a broken leg and a broken foot, nothing better than doing that."
Can you race your way into the Chase?
"Yeah, we have our work cut out for us, we knew we did in the beginning and I knew we put us in the hole in points. It's unfortunate that we've had a couple crashes. I hate it for my guys, they don't deserve to be in that spot. They have certainly worked hard all year long. David Ragan and Matt Crafton, those guys that have filled in for me, those guys never gave up and kept fighting hard the whole time, so I appreciate them for that and they deserve to be in the Chase. As much as I can do, that's what we're going to do. Adam Stevens, this is his first win as a Cup crew chief, so this is pretty special. My wife is here, she flew in this morning. So it's awesome to have her with us today. Brexton is at home though, he didn't want to fly six hours, so we let him stay at home this time. This is so cool."
"My foot hurts a little bit, not as bad as I expected it to. It actually hurt worse in practice. I think I warmed it up on Friday. It felt pretty good on Friday. Thanks to Fox - thanks to you guys and all of our broadcast partners for being around and filling in for the first half of the year and looking forward to the second half."
How does it feel to be back in victory lane?
"I don't know if they can all understand how it feels. There's some sentimental fans out there for sure, the ones that are cheering that normally wouldn't cheer for me. It's definitely special to be here in victory lane in a Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma. We broke this streak of 10 different winners - I won here in 2008. It's been a long time, but man, it's so cool to come home one-two with my brother (Kurt Busch), that was really awesome. I can't say enough about him for helping me, actually. He gave (Clint) Bowyer a heck of a run, gave me a gap a couple times - that was pretty good. Thankful for that. I can't say enough about this whole M&M's Crispy team, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, everyone at M&M's were all behind me. All my partners, Toyota and Interstate Batteries - it's just a phenomenal opportunity for me to be here in victory lane, walking into it."
How were you able to pass Jimmie Johnson for the final race lead?
"I felt like the sooner the better. I couldn't let him (Jimmie Johnson) hold me up. I couldn't let him break my momentum and everything I had going. It would just take too long for me to get it back. (Clint) Bowyer would catch up to me by then. I was fortunate to get by him (Jimmie Johnson) and then he tried to set sail, hit my marks. Those last three laps I was trembling a little bit, just trying to not screw it up and saw my brother (Kurt Busch) get behind me and played blocking for me. He wants to win and we're competitive any time we get out there like that. Just an amazing feeling to be here in victory lane. Can't say enough about my medical team that helped me and helped me get back into shape. Just so excited, this is cool."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued)
How much closer does it feel to breaking the top-30 and getting into the Chase?
"Now I don't have to bust my butt and overdrive the car every week in order to get wins. Now I can just concentrate on running top-three, top-five, top-eight - just getting those finishes and points. If we can do that, the points have got to come and fall on the line. Of course, more wins would certainly help us, and that would only help our cause and allow us to get to the top-30 quicker, but we have to take it in moderation here and be smart about it. I can't say enough about it. It's so cool to win here in Sonoma, to win on a road course and of course to win for Toyota - their support that they pour into this race track - it's really cool to be here."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
Did you have anything for Kyle Busch on the final restart?
"I was just in the wrong line. That restart there, Kyle (Busch) got up on the inside of us and wasn't able to get underneath of him. Then I got hung up with Matt (Kenseth) and thought we were both going to work. Tore our car up real bad. You get so close - drove my ass off. I tried, just came up a little short. Kyle had a really good short run car and after a handful of laps I was able to get by him on the run before that. I knew that wasn't going to be the case. I was just going to have to go. I tried to get up through him and get rough with him and beat him to it, but he beat me to that situation and won. A good weekend for us. Billy Scott (crew chief) and all these guys on the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota - two solid weekends. Wasn't what we came out here to do, but had a lot of fun."
How strong was the car this weekend?
"We weren't just able to capitalize - I think we were probably a second or third place car. It seemed like for whatever reason the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) came on really good there. The 41 (Kurt Busch) was probably the fastest car all weekend long. We were right there with him. Fun to come out here in wine country and be able to compete like that. This is where we need to be running. We need to be able to go to these regular race tracks and keep this momentum and confidence level up that we have when we come out here. It's unfortunate - you get that close and you want to get greedy.
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 2ND
WAS THIS A STATEMENT CHAMPIONSHIP-TYPE RUN FOR YOU TODAY?
"Well, yeah you could say that. Gene Haas has given everything to me and I wanted to deliver a win for him. It was an incredible drive all day. The car was fast. I thought we had the right sequence. Kyle (Busch) got a lucky break when that yellow came out and he got onto pit road and there were just too many cars between me and him on some of those restarts. I just didn't quite get the restarts I needed. But it was a great Haas Automation Chevy. It was fast. We led laps. We qualified second and finished second. But I think we made a statement, yes. The car was great. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and all the guys back at the shop built me a beautiful road course car. I just came up a little shy in qualifying and in the race. Congratulations to my little brother (Kyle). I know this is huge. He still has a long way to go to get him in that Top 30. He's an incredible driver. I don't know how many times we've finished 1-2, but we'll see the other Busch brother win today."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 FOLDS OF HONOR/OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE/BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 4TH
ON HIS DAY:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S PRO SERVICES CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 6TH
YOU STUCK WITH THAT 2-STOP STRATEGY. EVERYBODY CAME TO PIT LANE THERE AT THE END. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU SAW CLINT BOWYER PULL OVER?
"Initially, a little concerned. Then as we made that next lap, I saw there were a bunch of cars between myself and the first guy on (new) tires. I felt pretty good about things. And then after about a lap and a half, I wasn't feeling so good about things (laughs); they were there quickly. But if we came back tomorrow, we'd still run the same strategy. We played it perfectly. We were one caution away from it working out just right. So, this situation we're in with the wins and being locked in the Chase, we wanted to come out and be aggressive with our strategy in the Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet."
HOW BAD DID YOU NOT WANT TO SEE THAT LAST CAUTION? DID YOU THINK YOU WERE A SITTING DUCK WHEN MOST EVERYONE PITTED?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 MICROSOFT WINDOWS 10 CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 7TH
A LOT OF PEOPLE PITTED FOR TIRES FOR YOU WAS IT AN OBVIOUS DECISION?
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH TODAY'S FINISH?
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 8TH
ON HIS DAY:
ON HIS BATTLE WITH DALE EARNHARDT, JR. AT THE END:
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 9TH
"We needed that top 10 today. We've had good cars the last three weeks but not a lot to show for it because of bad luck so to race this WIX Filters Chevy in the top 10 all day and finish top 10 is such a good feeling. I want to thank Todd Parrott for his help over the last six weeks and look forward to having Luke Lambert (crew chief) and the rest of the boys back next week in Daytona."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AARP MEMBER ADVANTAGES CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 16TH
YOU WERE ABLE TO WORK YOUR WAY FORWARD, BUT IT'S BEEN A TOUGH DAY FOR YOU
‘It was. I was really optimistic going into the race. Our car was good in practice. We qualified well. They dropped the green and we were moving forward. I was pretty happy with it. I felt that rear starting to go off pretty early on and saw some guys coming from further back. And so we tried to make a couple of adjustments. It just seemed as the track continued to lay rubber, our set-up, which we were taking a little bit of a gamble and risk with, but it looked good in practice; but it just didn't pay off for us. So, we had to make some big adjustments and lose track position. But the car was really, really good there at the end. So, it was great to have AARP and Member Advantages on board and it was a great weekend. Nothing's going to take away from this weekend for me. I know it wasn't the finish we all wanted, but it was a very memorable weekend. It's still a little bit more fun to go to hang out with some of my friends and family here. But, I hate that we weren't a little bit better. And that last thing, I was just taking some risk on that last pit stop. We didn't have anything to lose at that point."
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 KINGSFORD CHARCOAL CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 37TH
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM THAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE GARAGE AND ENDED YOUR OPPORTUNITY FOR A GOOD RUN TODAY?
BRIAN BURNS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 47 KINGSFORD CHARCOAL CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 37TH
"Still investigating it looks like something with the fuel system may have gotten clogged up or gotten some debris or something in there. Not sure yet. We will take a good look at it when we get back to the shop and regroup. Man, even after having to come back out laps down. We turned it into a test sessions and learned a lot, picked up a lot of speed. We ran the fastest lap of the race compared to anybody else towards the end just trying some things. Trying to turn something positive into it."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/VISSER PRECISION CHEVROLET SS - Involved in an on-track accident on lap 29
YOU JUST MADE SOME ADJUSTMENTS TO MAKE THE CAR BETTER. WHAT HAPPENED?
"We were going to be okay. It's just a product of restarts here. When you are in mid-pack, it's not a good place to be. It's just really congested. We were a lot faster than a couple of guys around us. You're trying not to get run over. You've got to make moves. Every time I passed the No. 55 (David Ragan), he would just stay on the side of me and not give me three or four inches to get clear, so we can all kind of get going. After the fourth time of doing that, it's just, we both ran out of room and I guess he turned me on purpose. I ran into the side of him first, so I kind of had it coming. But that was an accident. I thought I gave him enough room there, coming out of the esses, and I felt like he probably just turned me on purpose where it happened and how it happened. But, it's just a product of the racing here and we'll go on and do our thing."
HOW DID THAT DEVELOP?
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
HOW AGGRESSIVE HAS THIS RACE BEEN FOR THE FIRST PART OF THE RACE?
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to our forums to discuss this article