In a battle of the Busch Brothers, Kurt Busch used teammate Ross Chastain to scrub off a pesky Kyle Busch for his first season win at Atlanta.
The two brothers were at the top of the charts all race long, Kyle winning Stage 1 and Kurt winning Stage 2. Kyle led 91 laps only second to Kurt with 144. Chase Elliott led 13 laps and after that, just a few drivers led no more than 2 laps. That’s real dominance by the duo.
As noted, Kurt used his teammate who was battling to stay in the lead lap as a pick to mess up the momentum his brother had. Kyle still had some fight left and closed within a fraction of a second to Kurt but there just wasn’t enough tires left to seal the deal. The rough old track played havoc on tires all day long. The track is in such rough condition that a section of it had to be repaired at the end of Stage 2 in order for the race to continue. Atlanta is set for a major repaving in the offseason so this was the last race on the old surface and configuration.
The win sealed Kurt Busch’s playoff hopes with just a handful of races left. There are just 4 drivers in the Top 16 without a win: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon. A win by any driver outside the Top 16 contenders may push one of these 4 into playoff elimination. That’s right folks, it is that tight. There are definitely some drivers that could mess up those playoff hopes including Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, and Chastain.
Harvick has three wins in the last six races at New Hampshire and Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are the other two recent winners and guess who ran second to each of them: Kyle Larson. Larson had an atypical day at Atlanta compounded by a speeding penalty.
Kyle Busch Watch
Kyle was none too pleased with the shenanigans of the Chastain 42 car. Now that Kurt has won, brotherly love is out the window. Kyle will be looking to put the hammer down this week. OK, every week.
Good on ya mate
- Martin Truex, Jr. (P3) overcame trouble and drove back to the front three times. Who knows what could have been? Nah, Kurt had the car to beat.
- Alex Bowman (P4) suffered from tire fall off like everyone else but still managed a decent finish.
- Ryan Blaney (P5) keeps improving could potentially win one of the remaining 5 races.
- Tyler Reddick (P6) is surging and runs the risk of booting someone out of the playoff hunt.
- Christopher Bell (P8) is another contender to win again – perhaps in the playoffs?
- Matt DiBenedetto (P9) must win to make it in. The points difference is just too great to overcome without Austin Dillon collapsing.
- Austin Dillon (P12) is keeping pace just enough to stay ahead of an improving Matty D, Bubba Wallace and Chastain.
So you had a bad day
- Kyle Larson (P18), what happened? You looked like you had a fast car? Perhaps too fast, especially on pit road.
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (P37) was the first car out due to suspension issues. And he gets called out as Wrecky Spinhouse on national TV during the red flag for the pothole fix. That’s a bad day.
- Daniel Suarez (P36) was the last car “running” down a bunch of laps. Kind of ruins his latest decent runs.
- Aric Almirola (P23) just can’t catch a break. This was supposed to be a good year for him and that hasn’t really panned out. That team may have major changes in the offseason if they don’t start winning – which means consistent Top 10 runs.
- Joey Logano (P19) started decently enough, just didn’t end the day that way.
New Hampshire should be an entertaining race. After that we head to Watkins Glen (just one more road course in the playoffs), The Brickyard (think it won’t be freaking hot there?), Michigan and Daytona.
Stay chill and keep the shiny side up!
(Featured Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)