‘I had to beat the Kyles’: Kurt Busch Wins at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 15: Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Jordan Brand Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This week it was 23XI Racing’s turn. Kurt Busch took the lead with 7 laps to go and charged to victory in the NASCAR Cup series race at Kansas Speedway Sunday.

Busch scored the 34th win of his long career and the first of the season for 23XI Racing team formed by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan last year.

After joining the team at the start of 2022 to help mentor Bubba Wallace, Busch’s best finish was a third at Atlanta in March. Sunday he was the class of the field leading a race high 116 laps, winning Stage 2, and becoming the eleventh different winner of 2022.

“It’s all about teamwork,” Kurt said. “I mean, I don’t do this alone, and the way that Toyota has helped us, JGR. My little brother has been so important just on the family side of, hey, you’ve got to get through these steps.

“Bubba is a tremendous teammate, but this is 23XI. This is our first win for the 45 car and with Jordan Brand on the hood. I felt like I had to play like the GOAT, race like the GOAT, and I had to beat the Kyles. I had to beat both. This was like the Kyle and Kyle show. “

Kurt’s younger brother Kyle won Stage 1 and overcame a pit road speeding penalty with a lightning fast stop during the races seventh and final caution for fluid on the track on lap 230 to take the lead out of the pits. He was hoping to repeat his win last season, and despite taking the lead with a push from his brother on the restart with 33 to go, Larson was able to dive underneath and grab the top spot from the younger Busch.

Kurt Busch had moved to second with 15 to go and was looking for the lead with less than 10 laps remaining. Larson and Busch raced side by side for several laps, but Larson got loose and scraped the wall coming out of Turn 4 with 7 to go and Busch took the lead.

Despite his best efforts, including another meeting with the wall, Larson couldn’t catch Kurt who won by 1.4 seconds. Larson did manage to salvage second.

“It was hard to hold off Kyle, and then I knew when Kurt got by him it was going to be really hard to hold him off,” Larson said. “I did my best but came up one spot short.”

Kyle Busch settled for third.

“We were in control on that final restart,” the younger Busch said.”You want to win the race in that instance, and I felt like our M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota Camry was good enough to do so, but (Kyle) Larson did a good job getting in my left rear in the right spot to drag me back going down the backstretch and I couldn’t retaliate to side draft going into (turn) three, so he beat us right there. Once he got clear it was over.”

Denny Hamlin, who has struggled all season, also overcame a pit road penalty for equipment interference, and finished fourth, polesitter Christopher Bell was fifth.

Martin Truex Jr. overcame a blown tire on lap 165 while running inside the top 10 to finish sixth, Ross Chastain was seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. eighth, and Alex Bowman ninth.

Bubba Wallace rounded out the top 10 to give the 23XI team its first double top 10 finish.

The story of the weekend for many was blown tires. During Saturday’s practice five cars lost tires; Sunday five cars again lost tires. Most of the issues blamed on low pressures below the recommended levels from Goodyear.

23XI Racing now joins Trackhouse Racing among the new teams to score wins in the Cup series in 2022.

“You know, we as an organization have kind of let these guys down,” Hamlin said. “I’m talking about Bubba and Kurt with so many mistakes that we’ve made on pit road and what not.

“Bubba got let down again on the last stop, but he was fast. I thought he was a little better than I was. We had to go back again three times today.

“But let’s talk about the positives. Just can’t thank Kurt enough. Jordan Brand’s first race. So jealous he gets to drive that car and then to have that thing so fast there. I’m just — yeah. I have never had certainly this kind of feeling even for a win for me much less when I did win, so it’s just different.”

After winning in a Ford, a Chevrolet and a Dodge, Sunday’s win in a Toyota marks the fourth win with a different manufacturer for Busch.

“It’s the most gratifying to work from the ground up with a brand-new car number,” Busch said. “Yes, I have been with a lot of teams, a lot of manufacturers. Now, this is the check off the Toyota box, but it’s about family.

“I love my family at home. I love my KBI employees and everybody at 23XI. This is for us. This is what the hard work is all about no matter if you lose a couple of spots on pit road, no matter if our car was a basket of whatever to start.

“I’m going to go find Toto. I’m in Kansas. I’m loving it.”

Next up for the NASCAR Cup series is the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race next Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

Photos: NASCAR at Kansas Speedway Sunday, May 15, 2022

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results AdventHealth 400
Kansas Speedway
Kansas City, Kansas
Sunday, May 15, 2022

1. (5) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 267.

2. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.

3. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.

4. (18) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.

5. (1) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 267.

6. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.

7. (11) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 267.

8. (36) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 267.

9. (8) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.

10. (24) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 267.

11. (4) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 267.

12. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.

13. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

14. (30) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.

15. (23) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.

16. (13) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.

17. (34) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.

18. (28) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 267.

19. (20) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 267.

20. (17) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

21. (26) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 267.

22. (16) Cole Custer, Ford, 267.

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

24. (12) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 266.

25. (31) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 266.

26. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 266.

27. (35) Chris Buescher, Ford, 265.

28. (33) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 265.

29. (14) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 264.

30. (2) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 263.

31. (27) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 263.

32. (22) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 261.

33. (19) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 256.

34. (29) Cody Ware, Ford, 255.

35. (15) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, Electrical, 64.

36. (32) BJ McLeod, Ford, Chassis, 32.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 124.476 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 13 Mins, 3 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.413 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 47 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Bell 1-9;T. Reddick 10-33;K. Larson 34-36;C. Bell 37-64;R. Stenhouse Jr. 65-67;K. Busch 68-82;C. Elliott 83;R. Chastain 84-87;W. Byron 88-112;K. Busch 113-124;C. Elliott 125-133;K. Busch 134-136;R. Blaney 137;K. Busch 138-201;K. Larson 202-203;K. Busch 204-231;K. Busch 232-234;K. Larson 235-258;K. Busch 259-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kurt Busch 5 times for 116 laps; Christopher Bell 2 times for 37 laps; Kyle Larson 3 times for 29 laps; William Byron 1 time for 25 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 24 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 18 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 10 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 4 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,1,9,8,24,19,23,43,12,48
Stage #2 Top Ten: 45,18,12,2,9,5,1,11,22,23