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Kyle Busch Bumps Kyle Larson For Bristol Victory

by Brandon Reed
Monday, April 16, 2018

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Kyle Busch leads
Kyle Busch leads

Kyle Busch used a classic bump-and-run move on Kyle Larson to take the lead with just over five laps to go.

Busch went on to hold off a last lap surge from Larson to score the win in Monday’s rain postponed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It marked the second straight Cup Series win for Busch, who took the victory in last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I was breathing hard there those last 20 laps, whatever it was,” said Busch as snow began falling over victory lane.  “That was a heck of a run right there with the 42 (Kyle Larson) – chasing him down, being able to get to him, being able to get by him and then trying to hold him off with some lap traffic ahead of us. I can’t say enough about this Skittles Toyota Camry. Adam Stevens (Crew chief) and my guys, they continue to impress and do an amazing job for me and give me great race cars week in and week out. We knew we were going to have a great long run car. We just had to get there and had to get some long runs.”

After being delayed by a day due to weather, Busch fought tire wear and the competition over the final 296 laps after racing resumed Monday afternoon.

Larson appeared to be the class of the field.  He was the leader when the race was halted by rain on Sunday, and stayed out to retain the lead when the race resumed.  The only seeming bump in the road for Larson came when he made contact with the car of Ryan Newman on lap 323, sending Larson spinning.

Larson retook the lead from Busch after a brief caution for rain with 110 laps to go.  He would pace the field until lap 494, when the nudge from Busch moved him out of the way.

For Busch, he would lead off and on during the day, notably taking the top spot from rookie Darrell Wallace, Jr. with 120 to go.  After losing the lead to Larson, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota was notably having issues on the long run.

With 30 laps to go, Busch thought he had a tire going down, and was preparing to pit when the caution flag came out for a flat tire by Brad Keselowski.

That opened the door for the bump-and-run finish.

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning Monday's rain delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning Monday's rain delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Busch said his car was running the best it had all day at the end of the race.

“I know Larson was a little bit loose right there. It seemed like he was over driving and trying to hold the bottom, but he was slipping out of the bottom and I got a huge run on him and got to him and it was just on. I knew I might as well just take the opportunity that I got right now. I knew it was a little early ‘cause you tend to try to want to think about saving that bump and run deal for the last lap, but I just took my chance with it and if he got back to my rear bumper, then so be it. I think that’s fair game and being able to race that way. Fortunately, I was able to run away from him and he couldn’t get back to me.”

For Larson, it was another near miss for victory lane at Bristol, a track where he has led 562 laps in his MENCS career, but has yet to score a win.

I was really, really good on that long run,” Larson said.  “And yeah, as soon as we restarted there, I was extremely loose. The No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) got to my inside. I just really didn’t have any grip. I thought it would tighten-up for me and I could get going, but it never really did and I was just really loose. I hate that I didn’t win. It’s another one at Bristol.”

For Jimmie Johnson, it was a sunny day despite the clouds, as the seven time series champion scored his first top five of the season with a third place result.

“Yeah, it really is a great boost,” Johnson said. “I’ve said for weeks now that we’re getting better and it’s great to finally have a result to back that up. We’ve had decent Fridays and really good Saturdays and then some bad luck in the races. Although we had plenty of bad luck over the course of the four or five days that we’ve been here, we were able to pull through and get a great third place finish. So, I’m very proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and thank everybody on this Lowe’s For Pros team and let’s get home and get out of here. It’s snowing again.”

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. came back from a spin and a pit road penalty – not to mention losing a lap – to contend for the win.  Stenhouse, Jr. charged to second after the final caution, and was nudging Larson’s back bumper for the lead.  In the end, he would finish in fourth place.

“We were really, really strong and I felt confident coming into the race yesterday and today,” Stenhouse, Jr. said.  “We fought adversity.  We lost track position multiple times and had to pass a lot of cars to get back to where we were.  Brian (Pattie, Crew Chief) made a great call coming down pit road and taking tires before that long green flag run that we had.  We got into second and I was hoping it would just go green to the end, knowing that we had better tires than the 42, who was the class of the field all day.”

Alex Bowman finished in fifth, giving Hendrick Motorsports two cars in the top five.

Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Newman rounded out the top ten.

As good as the day was for those drivers, it was a disappointing day for others.  Keselowski won the first and second segment of the event, and was running in the top three when the handle started to go away on his car.  Shortly after losing a lap, a blown tire with 30 laps to go sent him into the wall.  He would finish 23rd.

“The tire came apart on that restart and we were trying to bring it on home, but it just didn’t come together,” Keselowski said.

One of the fastest cars all day was the No. 11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin.  He charged to the lead on a lap 262 restart, but would head to pit road under green four laps later with a tire issue.  After making up his lost lap late in the going, Hamlin would rally for a 14th place finish.

Sunday, before the rains came, was unkind as well to several other contenders.  A multi-car crash on lap four gathered up several cars, including Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott and defending series champion Martin Truex, Jr. After repairs, Elliott would soldier home to a 29th place finish on Monday, some 27 laps down.  Truex, Jr. would restart the race on Monday, but was not running at the end.  He was credited with a 30th place result.

Ryan Blaney was leading the race on Sunday when he was gathered up in a multi-car crash on lap 117, ending his day.  He had led 100 laps before the incident.

“By the time I could see anything they were already turned right and there was nowhere to go,” said Blaney on Sunday.  “Seeing the replay, I don’t know, people not cleared clearing themselves and then wrecking and take the leader out, so that’s unfortunate. Our car was pretty good today.  We just kind of got held up there and we might not have been as strong at the end of that run, but I thought we could have at least held on for that stage and never got the chance.

“The positives you look at is that we had a good car and that’s something to hold your head high about.”

Key Stats

This is Kyle Busch's 45th victory in 470 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races.

This is his second victory and seventh top-10 finish in 2018.This is his seventh victory and 15th top-10 finish in 26 races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kyle Larson (second) posted his fifth top-10 finish in nine races at Bristol Motor Speedway. It is his fourth top-10 finish in 2018.

Jimmie Johnson (third) posted his 19th top-10 finish in 33 races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Darrell Wallace Jr. (16th) was the highest finishing rookie. Kyle Busch leads the point standings by 59 points over Joey Logano.

Quotes

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning
Sean Gardner/Getty Images
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

How did you overcome all of the adversity with the race and weather to get to victory lane?

“It’s just the long long delays and things that happen that kind of get you in and out of your game. Tell you what, you just got to stay focused for the entirety of it and try to keep going. I of course used some NOS in order to help me do that and some Skittles of course to help me do that. We had plenty of those during the break, but I can’t say enough about this Skittles Toyota Camry. I mean Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and these boys brought a great race car. We knew it was going to be good in the long runs. We weren’t quite as good as the 42 (Kyle Larson) on that long run before that last caution came out. I actually thought I had a tire going down, but we were able to get some tires on it and go give it everything we had. We had a 20-lap shootout and that was everything that it was about was right there just chasing down that 42 and being able to get there. Thanks to M&Ms, Interstate Batteries, Cessna, DVX Eyewear, Black Clover, the fans. I appreciate the fans coming out today. I know it was a hard one, a tough one, a cold one for everybody that was here in Bristol and around Bristol, Tennessee, but we appreciate that.”

How are you feeling after such a long race?

“I was breathing hard there those last 20 laps, whatever it was. That was a heck of a run right there with the 42 (Kyle Larson) – chasing him down, being able to get to him, being able to get by him and then trying to hold him off with some lap traffic ahead of us. I can’t say enough about this Skittles Toyota Camry. Adam Stevens (Crew chief) and my guys, they continue to impress and do an amazing job for me and give me great race cars week in and week out. We knew we were going to have a great long run car. We just had to get there and had to get some long runs. Actually the 42 was better than us right there before that last caution came out, so I don’t know what happen to ours, but we just got really really bad tire vibrations and just wasn’t able to run as hard as we wanted, but we got it. Came in, got them four tires put on it and man we were fast there at the end. We chased those guys back down.”

Before that last set of tires, you were feeling that right-front tire. Was it because you were trying a higher line?

“I don’t think so. They said the left-front was wore out. They said the left-front was down to the cords and gone, so I think it’s just the air pressure build on these – these tires, they keep building the sidewalls stiffer and stiffer and we just keep taking more and more and more air pressure out of them and it’s just hurting the tire because you can’t get any grip in it when in the long runs and so it’s just unfortunate that we’re playing games with the tires because Goodyear keeps changing them on us. Overall, it was a great day for us. Cool to be in victory lane again. I want to thank Interstate Batteries, M&Ms, Toyota, NOS Energy Drink, Cessna, DVX Eyewear, Black Clover and of course the fans. I certainly appreciate the fans that were all out here in Bristol, Tennessee this weekend and whether through 80-degree weather on Friday and Saturday to snowy and sleety here today.

Was your car the best right at the end of the race?

“It was the best right at the end. I know (Kyle) Larson was a little bit loose right there. It seemed like he was over driving and trying to hold the bottom, but he was slipping out of the bottom and I got a huge run on him and got to him and it was just on. I knew I might as well just take the opportunity that I got right now. I knew it was a little early ‘cause you tend to try to want to think about saving that bump and run deal for the last lap, but I just took my chance with it and if he got back to my rear bumper, then so be it. I think that’s fair game and being able to race that way. Fortunately, I was able to run away from him and he couldn’t get back to me.”

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 MCDONALD’S CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 2nd

DID YOUR CAR JUST PROGRESSIVELY GET TOO FREE NEAR THE END?

I was really, really good on that long run. And yeah, as soon as we restarted there, I was extremely loose. The No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse) got to my inside. I just really didn’t have any grip. I thought it would tighten-up for me and I could get going, but it never really did and I was just really loose. I hate that I didn’t win. It’s another one at Bristol. I feel like every time I race here I almost get a win. It was a fun race. I’ve been beat by Kyle (Busch) about every time I race here, too; so that gets frustrating after a while.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 3rd

RAIN, SLEET, AND EVEN A VIBRATION WITH TIRES THERE AT THE END YOU DODGED EVERYTHING. HOW BIG OF A MOMENTUM BOOSTER IS THIS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?

“Yeah, it really is a great boost. I’ve said for weeks now that we’re getting better and it’s great to finally have a result to back that up. We’ve had decent Fridays and really good Saturdays and then some bad luck in the races. Although we had plenty of bad luck over the course of the four or five days that we’ve been here, we were able to pull through and get a great third place finish. So, I’m very proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and thank everybody on this Lowe’s For Pros team and let’s get home and get out of here. It’s snowing again.”

Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Stage1 Stage2 Status
1 1 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Toyota 500 2 Running
2 6 42 Kyle Larson McDonald's Chevrolet 500 5 5 Running
3 17 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 500 7 3 Running
4 4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Ford 500 10 6 Running
5 8 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Chevrolet 500 7 Running
6 19 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 500 8 Running
7 39 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer Ford 500 8 Running
8 14 14 Clint Bowyer Haas Automation Demo Day Ford 500 3 Running
9 10 22 Joey Logano Autotrader Ford 500 Running
10 30 31 Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Chevrolet 500 2 Running
11 12 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota 500 Running
12 23 38 David Ragan The Pete Store Ford 500 Running
13 7 21 Paul Menard Menards/Dutch Boy Ford 499 Running
14 25 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 499 4 Running
15 21 3 Austin Dillon Realtree Chevrolet 499 9 Running
16 20 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # STP Chevrolet 499 10 Running
17 18 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 499 4 Running
18 11 24 William Byron # AXALTA Chevrolet 498 Running
19 31 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet 498 Running
20 29 00 Landon Cassill TW CABLE Chevrolet 498 Running
21 24 32 Matt DiBenedetto Keen Parts/CorvetteParts.Net Ford 497 Running
22 2 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford 496 9 Running
23 3 2 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Ford 495 1 1 Running
24 33 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 495 Running
25 34 72 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 494 Running
26 13 20 Erik Jones DeWalt Toyota 494 6 Running
27 35 96 * DJ Kennington Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 482 Running
28 32 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 475 Running
29 16 9 Chase Elliott Mountain Dew Baja Blast Chevrolet 473 Running
30 26 78 Martin Truex Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota 458 Accident
31 28 23 Gray Gaulding Earthwater Toyota 448 Running
32 36 55 * Reed Sorenson VIPRacingExperience.com Chevrolet 342 Accident
33 38 66 * Chad Finchum(i) Concrete North/Smithbilt Homes Toyota 335 Accident
34 15 95 Kasey Kahne WRL General Contractors Chevrolet 236 Steering
35 5 12 Ryan Blaney REV Ford 117 Accident
36 22 37 Chris Buescher Bush's Beans Chevrolet 116 Accident
37 37 51 Harrison Rhodes Industrial Construction Experts Inc. Chevrolet 115 Accident
38 9 34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops Ford 9 Accident
39 27 15 Ross Chastain(i) LowT Center Chevrolet 3 Accident

Average Speed of Race Winner: 77.465 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 25 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.628 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 13 for 114 laps.

Lead Changes: 18 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 1-16; R. Blaney 17-55; J. Logano 56; R. Blaney 57-117; B. Keselowski 118-130; K. Larson 131-243; B. Keselowski 244-261; D. Hamlin 262-265; B. Keselowski 266-292; K. Larson 293-324; Kyle Busch 325-360; D. Suarez 361-365; B. Keselowski 366-374; D. Wallace Jr. # 375-380; Kyle Busch 381-438; K. Larson 439-472; Kyle Busch 473; K. Larson 474-494; Kyle Busch 495-500.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) K. Larson 4 times for 200 laps; Kyle Busch 5 times for 117 laps; R. Blaney 2 times for 100 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 67 laps; D. Wallace Jr. # 1 time for 6 laps; D. Suarez 1 time for 5 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 4 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,31,14,47,42,20,48,10,41,17

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,18,48,11,42,17,88,4,3,43

Top 10 in Points: 1. Kyle Busch – 365 (2 Wins); 2. Joey Logano – 306; 3. Kevin Harvick – 290 (3 Wins); 4. Clint Bowyer – 286 (1 Win); 5. Brad Keselowski – 271; 6. Ryan Blaney – 267; 7. Martin Truex, Jr. – 257 (1 Win); 8. Denny Hamlin – 252; 9. Kyle Larson – 249; 10. Kurt Busch – 241.

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