Kyle Busch completes Bristol hat trick with Cup win
Kyle Busch completed the Bristol Motor Speedway sweep on Saturday night.
After he was victorious in the Camping World Truck Series race on Wednesday and picked up the Xfinity Series win on Friday, Busch picked up his 40th Monster Energy Cup Series race and made it a clean sweep at Thunder Valley.
Busch, who led 156 laps, beat Erik Jones to the line by 1.422-seconds. For his second Bristol hat trick after his 2010 sweep.
“Great job everybody,” Busch said after winning his sixth race at the high-banked half-mile. "Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight. I mean I just can’t say enough about that young man. He’s a great kid. I have a lot of fun with him. I have a lot of respect for him. He raced me awesome out there like a great teammate and gave me the room when necessary and raced me hard when necessary. Man, it’s just great to have a guy like that."
Still, Jones was dejected after leading a race-high 260 laps.
“We just didn’t have it,” Jones said. “I did what I could but it wasn’t enough.”
Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top 10.
Jones led the field to green for the final segment on Lap 257. Busch restarted third but quickly passed Larson for second. Hamlin, Elliott, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Blaney, Suarez and McMurray completed the top 10.
After 10 laps, Jones extended his lead to .854 over Busch but the No. 18 car was closing in. Elliott was third followed by Larson, Hamlin, McMurray, Blaney, Kurt Busch, Bowyer and Newman. Suarez, Johnson, Bayne, Harvick and Stenhouse rounded out the top 15. Blaney passed McMurray for sixth on lap 275.
Elliott passed Larson for third on Lap 277. Hamlin, Blaney, McMurray, Bowyer, Newman and Johnson rounded out the top 10. On Lap 285, McMurray regained sixth from Blaney. Bowyer ran eight followed by Newman, Harvick, Johnson, Bayne, Suarez, Stenhouse and Kurt Busch.
By Lap 300, Jones had led 153 laps. Kyle Busch, Elliott, Larson, Hamlin, McMurray, Blaney, Harvick, Johnson and Newman completed the top 10. Kenseth, who restarted 21st, was back in the top 15.
Ten laps later, Jones lapped Dale Earnhardt Jr., leaving 18 cars on the lead lap. Larson passed Elliott on Lap 312. Three laps later, Jones extended his advantage by 1.671-seconds over Busch. Larson, Hamlin, Elliott, Harvick, Blaney, Johnson, McMurray and Newman rounded out the top 10. Bower was 11th followed by Suarez, Kenseth, Bayne and Kurt Busch.
Aric Almirola’s tire issues continued on Lap 325. After two laps, he came to the pits. Jones gave the bumper to Joey Logano on Lap 331 on the backstretch and lapped him one circuit later leaving 16 cars on the lead lap.
Jones held a 1.2-second lead over Kyle Busch on Lap 340. Larson, Hamlin, Elliott, Harvick, Johnson, Blaney, McMurray and Newman completed the top 10. On Lap 349, Larson passed Busch for second but Jones still held a 2.2-second lead.
Ty Dillon hit the wall in Turn 2 to trigger the sixth caution on Lap 353. Jones led followed by Larson, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Elliott, Harvick, Johnson, Blaney, McMurray, Newman, Suarez, Kenseth, Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Stenhouse.The leaders pit on Lap 356. Logano received the lucky dog.
“It won’t turn and I have damage up front,” Kurt Busch said after contact with teammate Clint Bowyer.
Jones was the first car off of pit road followed by Larson, Elliott, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin — who slowed exiting pit road and gave up two positions. Harvick, Blaney, McMurray, Johnson, Suarez, Newman, Bowyer, Busch and Stenhouse remained on the lead lap.
After the first lap, Busch powered by Elliott and Larson and took the lead from Jones on Lap 360. Harvick ran third followed by McMurray, Larson, Elliott, Kenseth,
By Lap 367, the leaders ran single-file. Busch’s lead grew to .360-seconds over Jones on Lap 370. Larson, Kenseth, Harvick, Elliott, McMurray, Blaney, Suarez and Hamlin rounded out the top 10.
Kurt Busch passed Suarez for 10th on Lap 387. Johnson ran 12th followed by Stenhouse, Bowyer and Newman. NASCAR warned the field about smoke on the No. 43 car. Hamlin passed Blaney for eighth.
Ty Dillon’s right front let go on the backstretch on Lap 395 to ignite the seventh caution. Busch held a 1.8-second lead over Jones. Larson, Kenseth, Harvick, McMurray, Hamlin, Blaney, Kurt Busch, Suarez, Stenhouse, Johnson, Bowyer, Newman and Elliott, who made contact with Harvick, dropped from 10th to 20th, one lap down.
The leaders pit on Lap 397. Jones retook the lead out of the pits on Lap 400. Kenseth, Harvick, Kyle Busch, McMurray, Blaney, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Larson, Stenhouse, Suarez, Bowyer, Logano and Menard rounded out the top 15.
After five laps, Jones held the point followed by Harvick, Kesneth, Kyle Busch, McMurray, Johnson, Blaney, Larson, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Stenhouse and Bowyer.
Matt DiBenedetto punted Landon Cassill plowed into Turn 1 wall to bring out Caution 8 on Lap 414. Jones led followed by Kenseth, Busch Harvick, McMurray, Blaney, Larson, Hamlin, Logano and Bowyer. Johnson pitted on Lap 417 followed by Newman, Kurt Busch, Stenhouse, Menard and Michael McDowell.
The race restarted on Lap 421 and Jones quickly passed Kyle Busch. Kenseth grabbed second out of Turn 2 on Lap 427. Blaney was fourth followed by Hamlin, Harvick Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Bayne and Newman. Busch passed Bowyer for seventh on Lap 433. Hamlin passed Blaney for fourth on Lap 437.
With 60 laps remaining, Kenseth looked to the inside of the No. 77 but couldn’t make the pass. Coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 443, the three Toyotas split traffic. On Lap 445, Busch passed Jones for the lead and Kenseth claimed second.
On Lap 450, Kyle Busch held the point followed by Kenseth, Jones, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Johnson, Newman, Bayne, Larson and Blaney. Kurt Busch, who gained 21 positions, was the biggest mover at that point.
After 10 laps, Busch extended his lead by 10 car lengths. On Lap 463, Jones bumped Kenseth on the backstretch and completed the pass for second. With 30 laps to go, Busch’s advantage was 1.196-seconds over Jones. Kenseth, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Bayne, Newman, Harvick and Larson rounded out the top 10. Two laps later, Bayne passed Johnson for sixth-place.
Jones cut Busch’s lead to .840-seconds with 25 laps to go. Kenseth, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Bayne, Johnson, Newman, Harvick and Larson completed the top 10. Newman passed Johnson and then took sixth-place from Bayne with 18 laps to go. Hamlin moved by Kenseth for third.
With 15 laps to go, Jones was .75-seconds behind the No. 18 car. Five laps later, Busch and Jones battled traffic. Jones followed his mentor but couldn’t catch him. Busch extended his lead to .821-seconds with five laps remaining.
"This M&M’s Caramel Camry was awesome tonight," Busch added. "(Crew chief) Adam Stevens and these guys they never quit working on it. Every single pit stop we kept working on it, kept adjusting on it, so I can’t say enough about his Toyota Camry, everybody at TRD."
There were 21 lead changes among six drivers -- Busch, Jones, Kenseth, Newman, Larson and Elliott, who finished 18th.
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Erik Jones comes one position short of first Cup win at Bristol