Kyle Busch used his bumper to move aside Kyle Larson and win the rain-delayed Food City 500 Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch nudged Kyle Larson out of the lead with five laps remaining, then held on to win the rain-delayed Food City 500 Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson led a race-high 200 laps and was in line for his first Cup Series race of the 2018 season when Busch ran him down and executed a bump-and-run pass to take away the lead. Busch proceeded to lead the final five laps to win his second consecutive race at Bristol and second in a row on the season following a triumph last week at Texas Motor Speedway.
“[Larson] was slipping out of the bottom [groove] and I got a huge run on him and got to him and it was just on,” Busch said. “I knew I might as well just take the opportunity that I got right now. I knew it was a little early because you tend to try to want to think about saving that bump-and-run deal for the last lap, but I just took my chance with it and if he got back to my rear bumper, then so be it. I think that’s fair game and being able to race that way.
“Fortunately, I was able to run away from him and he couldn’t get back to me.”
The pass for the win by @KyleBusch on @KyleLarsonRacin! pic.twitter.com/iB3JOq9vr4
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 16, 2018
Jimmie Johnson finished third, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fourth and Alex Bowman a career-best fifth. Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.
Larson appeared in control of the race when Brad Keselowski’s slowing car caused a caution and restacked the field with 31 laps remaining. That was an advantageous caution for Busch, who thought he had a flat tire and was within a couple of laps from pitting under green flag conditions. On the ensuing restart, Larson initially got away but Busch, whose car was stronger over longer runs, was able to catch him.
The win was Busch’s 45th in NASCAR’s premier division, passing Bill Elliott for 16th on the all-time list.
“We knew it (the car) was going to be good in the long runs,” Busch said. “We weren’t quite as good as (Larson) on that long run before that last caution came out — I actually thought I had a tire going down. We were able to get some tires on it and go give it everything we had.”
The second-place finish equaled Larson’s best result of the season and marked the second straight spring Bristol race where he led 200-plus laps but failed to register the victory. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver finished sixth last year after leading 202 laps.
“Hate that I didn’t win; another one at Bristol,” Larson said. “Feel like every time I race here I almost get a win.”
NASCAR’s annual spring stop at Bristol was originally scheduled for Sunday, and 204 laps were completed before incessant inclement weather forced the remainder of the race to be concluded Monday. Despite intermittent showers and light snowfall throughout afternoon, the NASCAR was able to get the race completed in its entirety.
Busch has finished no worse than third in the past six Cup Series races and will go for his third consecutive victory Saturday night at Richmond Raceway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver owns four victories on the Virginia short track, though none since 2012. Logano is the defending race winner.
“If I had to pick a track that just boggles my mind, I think Richmond would be at the top of my list,” said Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief. “We just can’t seem to get it right there. The couple times that we were pretty good, there was always somebody who was light years better.
“I’m not going to make any predictions at all about Richmond other than we’re going to swing for the fence, I can tell you that.”