Kurt Busch Finds Victory Lane in Richmond

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The past 365 days have been a whirlwind for Kurt Busch.  But after snapping his 35-race winless streak this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, leading a race-high 291 of 400 laps in dominating fashion and finding victory lane, somewhere so common for him, he described the feeling in one word: “Incredible”.

The Toyota Owners 400 was actually run on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. rather than Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. due to rain. Mother Nature put another damper on NASCAR’s scheduled weekend festivities.  So rather than wait it out and cause fans a nine-hour day, NASCAR decided to just call the race an hour before it even started and told everybody that they would race tomorrow.

The rain cleared, the track was green, the drivers were ready to go and the show on track did not really disappoint.

“It’s a total team effort.  And the way that everything came together, it just seemed like we were building, building and building towards a great finish like this.  It’s an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you’re accused of something and things go sideways.  Your personal life doesn’t need to affect your business life and I’m here in Victory Lane.  It feels great to do it at Richmond.” said Busch with a smile standing with his No. 41 team.

After being granted a waiver to possibly get into the Chase back on March 11, when he was reinstated by NASCAR, he is now in the Chase, making him the second car at Stewart-Haas Racing to clinch a spot already 25 percent into the young season.

His teammate, Kevin Harvick, finished second for the third time in his last five races after leading only two laps.  He ran in the top five for most of the afternoon before he had a set of tires put on his car that were bad for some reason.  He fell back to 15th and ended up working his way back to second.  In the last 10 laps, he was catching Busch by about 0.1 seconds per lap.  If he had more time, we could be talking about his third victory of the season.  But we’re talking about Busch’s.

“Tony Gibson is an amazing crew chief.  I’m glad I’ve got the chance to work with him, we got it done today.” Busch added.

It was Gibson and Busch’s ninth race together, and now they’re winners.

Rounding out the top ten was Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr.

One of the storylines coming in was if Logano, Harvick and Truex Jr. would be able to get back on track after disappointing finishes last weekend, and with finishes of second, fourth and tenth respectively, they did just that.  Also, the No. 48 and No. 5 cars of Johnson and Kahne, who started in the late 30’s due to poor qualifying efforts, quickly made their way up through the field and notched top tens.

The other Hendrick Motorsports driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 14th after a late run in with Tony Stewart.  Smoke came home 41st after hitting the inside wall with about 20 laps remaining.  He ran in the top 15 for most of the race, but his somewhat dismal season continues with another poor finish.

Jamie McMurray was the surprise of the race to many.  Although he only led four laps, he charged through the field and took the lead briefly on lap 259 from Busch.  After a round of green flag pit stops, Busch remained the leader and McMurray only challenged Busch for the lead once more.

On the final restart. with about 20 laps remaining, “The Closer”, Kevin Harvick, got around him and the No. 1 car finished a solid fourth.  His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Kyle Larson, came home in 12th place.  Ryan Newman finished in 11th for RCR as well.

Some other notable finishers include AJ Allmendinger in 13th after starting fourth, Paul Menard 15th, Chase Elliott 16th, making his second ever Sprint Cup Series start for Hendrick Motorsports, Brad Keselowski in 17th after losing the handle mid-race, Justin Allgaier 18th, Carl Edwards 19th, and Denny Hamlin, who was slow all afternoon, in 23rd place as well at his home track of Richmond for Joe Gibbs Racing.

David Ragan finished 23rd and Danica Patrick finished 25th.  She had a run in with Casey Mears (finished 30th) early on, as she seemed to come down into his No. 13 car and she almost wrecked 4-5 drivers  But she saved it, and eventually finished the race.

Brett Moffitt came home 29th, but this might have been his last race in that car because it was announced earlier this week that team owner Michael Waltrip will race the No. 55 car next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, but you never know.

As I just stated, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series head to the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway in the heart of Alabama.  Denny Hamlin is the defending winner of this race, but we all know that Talladega is the definition of a wild card on the NASCAR circuit.  Drafting, mind games, tight quarters, you name it, ‘Dega probably has it.

Will we see another first-time winner next weekend?  Maybe!