SPARTA, Ky. – Kurt Busch bested his younger brother Kyle Busch during an overtime restart to earn his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season on Saturday evening at Kentucky Speedway.
The elder Busch, the 2004 series champion, appeared out of the picture to win the Quaker State 400 until a timely caution flag with six laps left presented him the perfect opportunity to steal the checkered flag.
Kurt Busch was battling for the race lead when he made his final pit stop on lap 214. Kurt Busch’s team opted for four tires during the stop while fellow contenders Kyle Busch and Joey Logano opted for just two tires.
The difference in tire strategy left Kurt Busch far behind Kyle Busch and Logano, all but eliminating the No. 1 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch from the battle for the lead.
With 21 laps left Logano was able to get by Kyle Busch, which allowed Logano to cycle into the lead two laps later when the pit stop cycle came to a close. Once in front, Logano was able to stretch his lead to more than a second over Kyle Busch.
Logano’s lead was erased with six laps left when Bubba Wallace cut down a tire in turns one and two, resulting in his No. 43 Chevrolet going for a spin to bring out the caution flag and set up an overtime restart.
Logano opted for the outside on the restart, with Kyle Busch lined up alongside him on the bottom. Erik Jones restarted third, followed by Kurt Busch in fourth.
When the green flag waved Logano got swallowed by the pack, with Kyle Busch taking the lead while Kurt Busch went to the outside and Jones went to the inside in a three-wide battle for the top position.
Entering turn three Jones fell back behind the Busch brothers, leaving just the two Las Vegas natives to battle for the race lead. Kurt Busch inched ahead of Kyle Busch as they crossed under the white flag, but the two made contact as they entered turn one.
Kurt Busch remained on the outside of his younger brother through turns one and two and was again able to pull even down the backstretch despite minor damage to his quarter panel from the contact earlier in the lap.
Coming through turns three and four Kurt Busch got a run on the outside and used his momentum to pull ahead of Kyle Busch. The two made contact again, but Kurt Busch was able to keep his car straight enough to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by a car length.
“He could have clobbered us against the wall and third place is probably what we would have got,” Kurt Busch said. “What an awesome run. We got this Monster Chevy in victory lane.”
The victory is Kurt Busch’s first since joining Chip Ganassi Racing and comes one week after an unlucky pit call cost him a victory during the rain soaked Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. It was also the first victory at NASCAR’s top level for his crew chief, Matt McCall.
“This is the first win for this group of guys and I’m really proud of them,” Kurt Busch noted. “The way that we came together really had speed. We just weren’t completing all the steps that it took to be a winner in the Monster Energy Cup Series. And now, we’re all winners.”
Kyle Busch was disappointed to finish second, but he was happy to see his older brother in victory lane.
“I’m glad it was a thriller. Just unfortunate we were on the wrong end of the deal,” Kyle Busch said. “Congratulations to Kurt, Chip (Ganassi), Monster and all the guys over there. It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes. I’ve been a part of a lot of them, but not very many, in fact none, with my brother like that. So that was a first.”
Jones chased the Busch brothers to the checkered flag in third, followed by Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin.
Logano faded to seventh after leading during the final restart.