Kyle Busch Returns To His Winning Ways In Sonoma

Kyle Busch Returns To His Winning Ways In Sonoma

by June 29, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Image

SONOMA, Calif. – Kyle Busch is one step closer to racing his way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Sunday’s win in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

On Sunday afternoon, Kyle Busch only led 17 laps en route to his first victory of the season. Busch’s last win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series came 46 races ago, dating all the way back to March of last year at Auto Club Speedway. So far this season, Busch has two top-10 finishes. Since returning to the driver’s seat following a crash at Daytona that kept him sidelined for the first 11 races, Sunday’s win marks Busch’s only top-five of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“It’s definitely special to be here in victory lane in a Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma,” Busch said. “We broke this streak of 10 different winners – I won here in 2008. It’s been a long time, but man, it’s so cool to come home one-two with my brother (Kurt Busch), that was really awesome. I can’t say enough about him for helping me, actually. He gave (Clint) Bowyer a heck of a run, gave me a gap a couple times – that was pretty good.”

However, for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry team, Sunday’s win means much more than just a great points day. In order for Busch to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, all he has to do is race his way into the top-30 in points. With 10 races to go until the cutoff, Busch sits 37th in the championship point standings, only 136 points back from Cole Whitt who currently holds the 30th position.

“Now I don’t have to bust my butt and overdrive the car every week in order to get wins,” Busch said. “Now I can just concentrate on running top-three, top-five, top-eight – just getting those finishes and points. If we can do that, the points have got to come and fall on the line. Of course, more wins would certainly help us, and that would only help our cause and allow us to get to the top-30 quicker, but we have to take it in moderation here and be smart about it.”

Finishing second was Kyle’s older brother, Kurt Busch who led 43 laps throughout the afternoon. Busch now has eight top-10 finishes this season, and he jumped up to 10th in the point standings.

“It was an incredible drive all day,” Busch said. “The car was fast. I thought we had the right sequence. Kyle (Busch) got a lucky break when that yellow came out and he got onto pit road and there were just too many cars between me and him on some of those restarts. I just didn’t quite get the restarts I needed. But it was a great Haas Automation Chevy. It was fast. We led laps. We qualified second and finished second. But I think we made a statement, yes.”

Clint Bowyer finished third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano who finished fourth and fifth respectively. Jimmie Johnson led 45 laps, most of any driver on Sunday, but he had to settle for a sixth place finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-10.

“Initially, a little concerned,” said Jimmie Johnson on the two-stop pit strategy. “Then as we made that next lap, I saw there were a bunch of cars between myself and the first guy on (new) tires. I felt pretty good about things. And then after about a lap and a half, I wasn’t feeling so good about things; they were there quickly. But if we came back tomorrow, we’d still run the same strategy. We played it perfectly. We were one caution away from it working out just right. So, this situation we’re in with the wins and being locked in the Chase, we wanted to come out and be aggressive with our strategy in the Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet.”

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 saw five cautions throughout the afternoon. David Gilliand brought out the first caution on lap 23 when he crashed in Turn 10. He went hard into the tire barrier after a left front tire went down. Gilliand finished a disappointing 43rd.

“That was a bad deal,” Gilliand said. “I just passed Sam Hornish up in seven and went through the esses and I just told Donnie, ‘I think I’ve got a left-front going down.  It’s soft.’  We were gonna come in and pit that lap and I eased up a little bit going through 10, but it never turned and once you get off in the dirt there that’s a bad place to get off.”

The second caution of the day came out on lap 30, when Martin Truex Jr. and David Ragan got together. The red flag was displayed for 10 minutes and 30 seconds. Truex Jr. and Ragan were racing each other hard in Turn 8 when the two drivers made contact. Truex Jr. was sent hard into the tire barriers, ending his afternoon. He finished 42nd, his worst finish of the 2015 season.

“We got wrecked bottom line,” Truex Jr. said. “Definitely a tough day. I felt like we had a decent car all weekend. We were off a little bit that first run, made some adjustments, felt like it helped.  When you start around 20th on those restarts it is just a recipe for disaster. I was trying to be aggressive, made some moves. I had a couple of cars passed and then the lane I was in jammed up and the guys I had passed got back by me. You just get frustrated, you lose patience and I got into the No. 55 (David Ragan) doors a little bit in Turn 7 and I guess he didn’t like it and he figured he would just dump me.  He probably has one coming, but other than that it’s just part of the restart deal.  I hate that I got my guys car tore up.”

JJ Yeley spun in Turn 10 and slammed into the concrete wall to bring out the third caution of the afternoon on lap 75. The accident resulted in a 41st place finish for Yeley.

Carl Edwards and David Ragan got together in Turn 8 to bring out the caution on lap 80. The two drivers who are former teammates crashed hard into the tire barrier. Ragan finished 39th, and Edwards finished 40th. Afterwards, Carl Edwards took responsibility for the accident.

“We were just racing and David (Ragan) and I race really well together, but it was just one of those deals where we came off of turn seven dead even and both of us wanted to see who would kind of give first,” Edwards said. “My left-rear hit his right-rear and it was pretty small contact, but it bounced both the cars sideways and ruined our day. Probably my fault, in fact that part is my fault, but it’s frustrating because I love this race track and I was having fun.”

The fifth and final caution was quite a bizarre one. With only 10 laps to go, the caution came out when Casey Mears’ rear axle snapped in half, sending his left rear tire still attached to part of the axle down the track. Mears finished 38th.

Kevin Harvick capitalized on Martin Truex Jr.’s misfortune and now leads in the championship point standings by 53. Joey Logano sits third 57 point back from Harvick. Jimmie Johnson jumps up to fourth 70 back, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. falls one spot to fifth, 71 points back.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, July 5 for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola. Coverage will begin on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 7:45 p.m. ET.

Toyota/Save Mart 350 Results:

1.) #18 Kyle Busch

2.) #41 Kurt Busch

3.) #15 Clint Bowyer

4.) #4 Kevin Harvick

5.) #22 Joey Logano

6.) #48 Jimmie Johnson

7.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

8.) #5 Kasey Kahne

9.) #31 Ryan Newman

10.) #9 Sam Hornish Jr.

11.) #1 Jamie McMurray

12.) #14 Tony Stewart

13.) #27 Paul Menard

14.) #43 Aric Almirola

15.) #42 Kyle Larson

16.) #24 Jeff Gordon

17.) #3 Austin Dillon

18.) #11 Denny Hamlin

19.) #2 Brad Keselowski

20.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21.) #20 Matt Kenseth

22.) #35 Cole Whitt

23.) #6 Trevor Bayne

24.) #10 Danica Patrick

25.) #33 Alex Kennedy

26.) #32 Boris Said

27.) #16 Greg Biffle

28.) #98 Josh Wise

29.) #83 Matt DiBenedetto

30.) #34 Justin Marks

31.) #7 Alex Bowman

32.) #26 Jeb Burton

33.) #46 Michael Annett

34.) #95 Michael McDowell

35.) #51 Justin Allgaier

36.) #40 Landon Cassill

37.) #47 AJ Allmendinger

38.) #13 Casey Mears

39.) #55 David Ragan

40.) #19 Carl Edwards

41.) #23 JJ Yeley

42.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.

43.) #38 David Gilliland


NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesTop-16 Point Standings:

1.) #4 Kevin Harvick

2.) #78 Martin Truex Jr. -53

3.) #22 Joey Logano -57

4.) #48 Jimmie Johnson -70

5.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -71

6.) #2 Brad Keselowski -111

7.) #1 Jamie McMurray -119

8.) #5 Kasey Kahne -133

9.) #20 Matt Kenseth -137

10.) #41 Kurt Busch -147

11.) #24 Jeff Gordon -154

12.) #27 Paul Menard -164

13.) #11 Denny Hamlin -178

14.) #31 Ryan Newman -181

15.) #43 Aric Almirola -185

16.) #15 Clint Bowyer -186

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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