Some people get little more than a cake and maybe some socks; Sunday Kyle Busch got a NASCAR Cup series race win for his 36th birthday. Busch held the lead on restart with 2 laps to go and fended off a hard charging Kevin Harvick to score his first win of the 2021 season charging to victory in the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway.
He became the series 10th different driver to win in the first 11 races in 2021.
“It’s hard sometimes,” Busch said. “When you go through the lows, you go through the disappointment, you go through the dejection and the non-understanding of just whether or not you can still do it. There’s a sense of doubt there for sure. You just have to keep persevering, keep digging and putting your focus forward to be able to come out here and win this thing.”
Busch led four times for a total of 20 laps scoring his first Stage win of the season, winning Stage 1 and completing a weekend sweep having won the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday night.
Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.
Harvick had a pit road penalty early in the race but during the closing set of cautions he was one of the few who took tires. He charged forward from seventh on the final two lap shootout to grab second just .336 of a second behind Busch. Harvick said the seas seem to part for him on the final restart.
“Yeah, they did,” Harvick said. “I told Rodney (crew chief Rodney Childers), ‘That’s why I drive and don’t make the calls on pit road’ because when I came out I was like, ‘Man, we’re dead in the water here,’ but our Busch Light For the Farmers Ford Mustang was on and off today. They did a good job of adjusting it and had the right strategy there at the end to have better tires than everybody else, and got pretty aggressive there at the end and were able to come up with a good finish.”
Most the 267 laps however belonged to Kyle Larson. Larson and won Stage 2 after starting from the rear of the field for two pre-race inspection failures. Larson first took the lead on lap 64 and led a race high 132 laps.
After no yellow flags beyond a competition caution at lap 30 and Stage breaks at laps 80 and 160. There were four in the final 100 laps.
During those long green flag runs Larson was the car to beat at times holding near 7 second lead over the field. A controversial caution late in the going however change the complexion of the race and opened the field up to more incidents.
During a round of green flag stops that started around lap 220, a tire got away from the crew servicing the car of Tyler Reddick on lap 225. The tire rolled onto the ballfield in front of pit road. Chris Buescher had yet to pit and stayed out hoping for a caution. Had NASCAR thrown it, Buescher would have had the field a lap down. NASCAR however waited for the stops to cycle through and moments after Buescher pitted from the lead, threw the caution 15 laps after the tire first rolled away from the car.
Larson won the race off pit road, but Denny Hamlin took the lead. Larson stayed close and with 24 laps to go Hamlin slapped the wall and slowed, giving Larson the lead once again. Hamlin would spin a few laps later after a right front tire went flat bringing out caution number 5.
Larson had the lead after the restart, but Austin Cindric and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got together and caution 6 waved on lap 254.
Kyle Busch grabbed the lead with 10 to go but Christopher Bell spun on lap 259 sweeping up Stenhouse and Ryan Preece. The cleanup took several laps setting up a two-lap shootout for the win.
On the final restart Busch was able to pull ahead of a hornet’s nest behind him. Ryan Blaney going for the win, was pushed from behind by Larson coming to the white flag; both were sent into the wall and out of contention. After leading the most laps, Larson had to settle for 19th place.
“Just lining up behind Blaney,” Larson said. “My plan was just to push him as hard as I could and try and be with him on the backstretch to shove him and hopefully get them guys racing in front of me or potentially get inside or outside for the lead somehow. I had just planned on pushing him really hard, and obviously I did that and got him sideways and ended up getting us both in the wall.
“Probably should have just laid off once I got to the corner and hopefully a run came to where I could get to his back bumper on the backstretch. Hate that I screwed that up and cost ourselves a good finish.”
Martin Truex Jr. was sixth, Reddick overcame his penalty for the uncontrolled tire to finish seventh with Buescher, William Byron and Austin Dillon rounding out the top 10.
Busch now becomes one of only two drivers who have won two races on their birthdays. Busch won at Richmond on his birthday in 2009. Cale Yarborough won at North Wilkesboro in 1977 and at Atlanta in 1983. Matt Kenseth is the only other Cup driver to win on his birthday, he did that at Las Vegas in 2013.
Busch did have a little bit of icing despite no birthday cake in victory lane.
“I just remembered it’s the Buschy McBusch race and a Busch won. What do you know?” he said smiling.
NASCAR heads to Darlington Raceway for next weekends Throwback weekend and Sunday’s NASCAR Cup series Goodyear 400.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Buschy McBusch Race 400
Kansas City, Kansas
Sunday, May 2, 2021
- (9) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.
- (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.
- (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.
- (5) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 267.
- (17) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.
- (15) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.
- (11) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 267.
- (16) Chris Buescher, Ford, 267.
- (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.
- (6) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
- (21) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 267.
- (20) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
- (3) Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.
- (24) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 267.
- (28) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267.
- (14) Ryan Newman, Ford, 267.
- (29) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
- (25) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.
- (32) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
- (19) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 267.
- (7) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.
- (38) Austin Cindric(i), Ford, 267.
- (22) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 266.
- (10) Cole Custer, Ford, 266.
- (27) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 266.
- (13) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 266.
- (26) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 265.
- (8) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 265.
- (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 264.
- (31) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 263.
- (30) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 260.
- (12) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Accident, 259.
- (36) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 259.
- (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 258.
- (35) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 258.
- (33) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 257.
- (34) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 256.
- (39) Matt Mills(i), Ford, 255.
- (37) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 250.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 129.647 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 5 Mins, 21 Secs. Margin of Victory: .336 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski 1-63;K. Larson 64;B. Keselowski 65-73;K. Larson 74-76;K. Busch 77-83;K. Larson 84-121;R. Stenhouse Jr. 122-144;K. Larson 145-162;K. Busch 163;K. Larson 164-167;K. Busch 168;K. Larson 169-212;C. Buescher 213-225;K. Larson 226-230;D. Hamlin 231;K. Larson 232-236;D. Hamlin 237-242;K. Larson 243-256;K. Busch 257-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Larson 9 times for 132 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 72 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 23 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 20 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 13 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 7 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,5,8,2,24,9,4,12,11,20
Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,18,11,2,9,12,19,8,20,4