Brotherly battle for the ages as Kurt Busch outduels his brother to win at Kentucky

SPARTA, KENTUCKY - JULY 13: Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota Camry Toyota, to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Lightning didn’t strike twice for Kurt Busch. A week after the bitter disappointment of losing at Daytona when lightning stopped the race, Busch slammed-banged his way to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series victory lane Saturday night staging a furious battle with his younger brother at Kentucky Speedway in an overtime finish that will be talked about for quite some time.

In the closing laps it looked to be Joey Logano’s race to lose.  Logano had taken the lead by getting by Kyle Busch, who had led the most laps, during a final cycle of green flag pit stops.  Logano got by Kyle Busch to take second. He inherited the lead a lap later when polesitter Daniel Suarez pitted with 20 laps to go.

Kyle began slowly reeling in Logano, but it didn’t appear to be enough and with 10 to go the lead was 1.4 seconds.

It all changed with 6 laps to go.  Bubba Wallace running 17th, lost a right rear tire and spun entering turn 1.  The spin brought out the seventh and final caution of the night and set up an overtime finish.

The final restart came with two laps to go. Logano was leading on the outside with Kyle Busch on the inside and Erik Jones and Kurt Busch behind.  The leaders fanned out three and four wide with the Busch brothers, Kurt high and Kyle low emerging side by side for the lead. The two swapped positions several times on the final lap making contact on more than one occasion with Kurt high and Kyle low as the two exited turn 4; Kurt was able to nose ahead and cross the line .076 ahead for his first win since Bristol last August, 30 races ago.

It was his first win at Kentucky Speedway and his first since joining Chip Ganassi Racing.

“You know, racing your little brother every week and watching him win a lot,” Busch said. “I’m proud of him, but I’m proud of him he gave me a little bit of room on that outside.  He could have clobbered us against the wall, and third place probably would have got it.  What an awesome run.”

The elder Busch brother was competitive from the start of the race.  From his fourth place starting spot he took the lead for the first time on a restart on lap 53. He would go on to win Stage 1 and lead a total of 41 laps.

Younger brother Kyle led a race high 72 laps taking the top spot the first time on lap 104 and stretching out his lead to 2 seconds and won Stage 2.

“I’m glad it was a thriller,” an obviously disappointed Kyle said.  “Just unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal for everybody at M&M’s and Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all the folks that get us to where we’re at.  But congratulations to Kurt and Chip and Monster and all the guys over there.  It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes and been a part of a lot of them and not very many ‑‑ in fact none with my brother like that, so that was a first.

“You know, no hard feelings, and we move on.”

Logano meanwhile overcame a green flag pit stop for a vibration on lap 120 that put him 2 laps down to overtake Kyle during that final green flag pit stop cycle.  After the furious final restart Logano could only manage to hold on in all the chaos to finish seventh.

“The caution came out at the wrong time,” Logano said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one, but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum.”

“It is frustrating when you are fast enough to win and you don’t win, yes it is frustrating.”

Behind Kyle, Jones was third, and Denny Hamlin rallied fifth after overcoming a speeding penalty.  Clint Bowyer led 40 laps and finished sixth, and behind Logano polesitter Daniel Suarez finished eighth after leading 52 laps and going three laps down after a speeding penalty on lap 108 when he was forced to pit under green with a tire going down.

Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher rounded out the top 10.

The win for Kurt comes a week after a miscue at Daytona. With weather closing in and Busch leading, his crew chief Matt McCall brought him in as the field was coming to the green.  Lightning struck before the green could wave and the race was stopped and eventually called handing the win to Justin Haley and leaving Kurt with a 10th place finish.

“Whatever last week was, it’s this week right now and we got the trophy,” Busch said smiling Saturday night.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sunday for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 with the green flag coming just after 3:00 p.m. ET.



Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Quaker State 400

Kentucky Speedway

Sparta, Kentucky

Saturday, July 13, 2019

1. (4)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 269.

2. (10)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 269.

3. (21)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 269.

4. (19)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 269.

5. (18)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 269.

6. (7)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 269.

7. (11)  Joey Logano, Ford, 269.

8. (1)  Daniel Suarez, Ford, 269.

9. (35)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 269.

10. (25)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 269.

11. (14)  Paul Menard, Ford, 269.

12. (16)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 269.

13. (15)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 269.

14. (2)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 269.

15. (20)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 269.

16. (23)  Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 269.

17. (22)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 268.

18. (12)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 268.

19. (8)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 268.

20. (3)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 268.

21. (29)  Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 268.

22. (5)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 268.

23. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 267.

24. (6)  Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 267.

25. (17)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.

26. (26)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

27. (30)  Matt Tifft #, Ford, 267.

28. (28)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 266.

29. (24)  David Ragan, Ford, 266.

30. (13)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 266.

31. (32)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 264.

32. (33)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 263.

33. (31)  Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 262.

34. (36)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 260.

35. (9)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 238.

36. (34)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 110.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  141.07 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 51 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .076 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 35 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Suarez 1-49;B. Keselowski 50-52;K. Busch 53-82;R. Stenhouse Jr. 83-103;K. Busch 104-162;E. Jones 163;C. Bowyer 164-201;K. Busch 202;C. Bowyer 203-204;K. Busch 205-212;K. Busch 213-225;D. Hamlin 226-230;R. Newman 231-245;D. Suarez 246-248;J. Logano 249-267;K. Busch 268-269.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 2 times for 72 laps; Daniel Suarez 2 times for 52 laps; Kurt Busch 4 times for 41 laps; Clint Bowyer 2 times for 40 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 21 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 19 laps; Ryan Newman 1 time for 15 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 5 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 3 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 1, 22, 18, 11, 10, 4, 17, 19, 8, 21

Stage #2 Top Ten: 18, 20, 3, 22, 14, 42, 1, 12, 21, 10

Greg Engle