BRISTOL, Tenn. – On a weekend where FOX Sports analyst and NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip sung Kyle Busch’s praises, the 33-year-old answered the call with a stirring victory in Sunday’s Food City 500.
After receiving significant rear-bumper damage in a lap-two accident on the backstretch, Busch charged through the field and eventually used late pit strategy to take command of the race in its final laps.
The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion didn’t even get to the lead for the first time until lap 384 of 500 on Sunday, but it was crew chief Adam Stevens’ call to stay out under the race’s final caution – which waved with 22 to go when Kyle Larson smacked the turn-three wall – that paid off.
Busch inherited the top spot over older brother Kurt when the leading Team Penske duo of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski came down pit road for fresh tires, then ran away over a 14-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch ultimately crossed the finish line first by .722 of a second over Kurt Busch in the end.
“We’re crazy,” said the younger Busch in victory lane of himself and his brother. “We just do what we do to try to win. It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys and get our win here today at Bristol. I love this place, and it was fun to battle my brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get side-by-side racing it out, but I saw him working the top and I knew I had better go. Once I got up there, I was able to make some ground.
“This Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end.”
Kyle Busch’s win on Sunday marked his third of the season in eight Cup Series races, as well as the 54th of his career, tying him with Lee Petty for 10th on the all-time win list.
It was also his eighth triumph at Bristol, moving him one notch closer to Waltrip’s track-record mark of 12 wins at the high-banked, concrete half mile.
“This ain’t a dozen, that’s for sure. I’ve got more to go (to catch Darrell), but we’re getting there and it’s been fun,” noted Kyle Busch, who led three times for 71 laps. “It’s the most (wins at Bristol) for an active driver – I think I’ve heard that – but there’s a lot more years yet hopefully for us to add to that mark.”
Sunday also made Kyle Busch the first Cup Series driver to start a season with eight-straight top-10 finishes since Terry Labonte in 1992.
Kurt Busch came home as the runner-up after starting 27th, marking his best finish of the season with Chip Ganassi Racing, but it was clear he wanted more in the final laps – and he admitted afterward he’d have done anything to get out in front.
“This one is tough. I really wanted to beat him,” said Kurt Busch. “I was going to wreck him. I wanted to stay close enough (to him) so that when we took the exit (of the corner), I was going to drive straight into (turns) three and four. He had already won. I figured he could give a little love to his brother.
“I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now; I’m all mad because I didn’t win,” he continued. “I’m happy that we were in position to do it, though. This group of guys … we’re not quite ready to win yet, but that was close. I was going to wreck my little brother to win today. With three laps to go, my car just stepped out in turn one, and I wasn’t close enough to him to do anything more after that.”
Logano came back to third on his fresh tires after pitting from the lead, but lamented losing the race on strategy like he and his team did.
“I was hoping we had more laps left,” said Logano. “I think we had the fastest car; we just didn’t get all the pieces right. When you have the fastest car, but don’t do the rest of the stuff (right), you don’t win. The 18 capitalized on that, so congrats to them.
“I feel like we won the race a couple times, but we just didn’t win it when it mattered the most.”
Ryan Blaney crossed the line fourth and Denny Hamlin finished fifth.
Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson completed the top 10.
Ty Dillon shocked the field with a similar pit call to win the first stage over Bowyer, while Logano topped the second stage on Sunday.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.