SPARTA, Ky. — If fans came to Kentucky Speedway hoping for a different kind of night at the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart, they got everything for which they could’ve hoped.
Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch put on a show, but it was elder brother Kurt who won the race and gave Chevrolet its first Cup Series win at Kentucky.
The Busch brothers battled on the final two laps after a caution set up a green-white-checkered overtime finish. The lead cars were three-wide coming out of turn two after the restart and it was a duel between Kurt and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch closed the door first on race leader Joey Logano then on teammate Erik Jones who restarted third, but Kurt Busch, who started fourth on the restart, went to the high lane to get side-by-side with his younger brother.
Battling down the backstretch, it looked as if the Busch brothers might wreck, but they battled door-to-door all the way to the finish line.
After the race, Kurt Busch said he was glad Kyle didn’t push him into the wall going down the backstretch.
The win also is the first of the year for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“Racing your little brother every week….I’m proud of him, I’m proud that he gave me a little bit of room on that outside,” Kurt said of the epic final lap battle with Kyle. “He could have clobbered us against the wall … But what an awesome run! We got this Monster Chevy in Victory Lane! Thank you, Kentucky!”
Darrel Wallace Jr. wrecked in the waning laps of the race, bringing out the final caution, which led to the restart. None of top-10 cars decided to pit after the final caution, setting up the two-lap shootout.
In addition to NASCAR’s new aero package debuting at Kentucky, track officials also applied traction compound, which made multiple grooves work in all turns. That led to four-wide racing in the middle of turns and exciting restarts all night long.
STAGES ONE AND TWO
The Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustangs dominated the early laps after Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola started on the front row. Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, took the first stage after Suarez short-pitted the stage to play the pit-strategy game later in the race. That gamble wouldn’t pay off as Suarez never again contended.
After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. began stage two out in front due to pit strategy, he surrendered the lead to Kyle Busch, who never looked back and won the stage easily.