The more things change, the more they stay the same.
While seeing Kyle Busch win a NASCAR Nationwide Series race isn’t necessarily unusual, Busch winning at Kansas is more of a rarity. Though Busch does have a Nationwide Series victory at the track from back in 2007, a variety of bad luck and poor performance in both NNS and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition has turned Busch’s relationship with Kansas Speedway into a rather contentious one.
While Busch might still not feel warm and fuzzy about the intermediate track, Saturday afternoon might have made some strides in giving Busch reason to look forward to the race in the future.
With around 20 laps to go in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300, Busch made a race-winning pass on Kevin Harvick, earning his sixth NNS win of the season and 69th overall.
Meanwhile, a championship battle that was already spread out became even wider when second-place finisher Regan Smith endured a rather tough day. Smith entered the race 26 points behind Chase Elliott and left with a 38 point gap. After wrecking in the second round of qualifying, Smith was forced to go to a backup car. Later in the race, a piece appeared to fly out from underneath Smith’s car and the team later diagnosed the issue as a broke right front sway arm.
The race lasted just under 2 and a half cautions and was slowed nine times for a total of 42 caution laps. Harvick was able to hold onto second place behind Busch. Ryan Blaney attempted to pass Harvick in the closing laps in the race but had to settle for third. Paul Menard and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 5.
Matt Kenseth finished sixth, followed by Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne, Brian Scott, and Elliott.
Elliott hugely benefited from Regan Smith’s misfortunes throughout the day, leaving the race with almost a full race advantage. Despite that (or because of that), Elliott continued to race hard in the closing laps of the race, racing two or three wide as the laps wound down in order to garner a solid top 10 finish. Amazingly enough, Elliott’s 10th place finish meant he was the final car on the lead lap as an untimely caution put several otherwise good cars a lap down.
Meanwhile, Busch seems to have finally overcome his Kansas gremlins. Though Busch had only finished outside the top 10 once in his nine previous NNS starts at Kansas Speedway, various issues and obstacles kept him out of Victory Lane for over seven seasons. Over time, even with relatively strong performance, Busch continued to express his displeasure over Kansas Speedway no matter where he went.
Despite all this, Busch was hardly the dominant driver of the day. Harvick led more laps than anyone, finishing the race with 47 total laps led to his credit. Though Harvick was less than satisfied with his second-place finish, he was easily one of the strongest cars in the race.
Not to pick on Smith, but no one arguably had a tougher time all day on Saturday than Smith. No one had more to lose than he did either.
Though Elliott has not mathematically locked up the title, Smith already had a long road to hoe. Now, Smith will have to hope for some misfortune on the part of Elliott before he even has a snowball’s chance in…well, ya know…
He otherwise had a good week. Smith announced that he had signed a one-year contract with JR Motorsports with sponsorship in tow. However, he was not able to carry those good vibes into the weekend as, once the bad luck set in, he was unable to shake it off and recover.
Chris Buescher was having a good run when he was involved in an accident not of his own making on lap 91. Kyle Larson got loose and lost the car on his own, spun up the racetrack, slid back down, and Buescher was unable to dodge Larson’s spinning car. Buescher was able to lead 20 laps before the accident.
Buescher already has one NASCAR Nationwide Series win to his credit this season after he won at Mid-Ohio and might have had a potentially winning car had he been able to stay in the race that long.
Underdog Performer of the Race:
Brian Scott was impressive over the course of the Kansas Speedway. Scott led during one of the early qualifying rounds on Saturday afternoon and ran in the top 10 for much of the day during the race. He was even able to lead a handful of laps before finishing solidly in the top 10 with a ninth place run.
Double Duty and Start and Park Effect:
Five of the drivers that competed on Saturday will also compete on Sunday.
Seven cars appear to have started and parked.
All of the cautions either created or were a result of a rather competitive race. There was no runaway winner in the race as several drivers had cars capable of winning and there was enough side-by-side racing to maintain some interest. Though the end result was unsurprising, the product itself was fairly decent.
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Ho hum! Another Nationwide race dominated by two egotist Cup drivers! Surprize! Surprize! Just the same, I was glad to see Chris Buescher could at least lead a couple of laps before being taken out (by a Cup driver) through no fault of his own.
people complain about the Cup drivers running in this series. No, they cannot get points, but the team can. Which says where the biggest problem is. Why does Joe Gibbs treasure an owner’s championship more than say, seeing to Elliott Sadler getting the driver’s championship. At companion events, Gibbs always puts egotist Kyle and Matt Kenseth in his cars. And next year, you can bet he will put Carl Edwards into one of his cars at every companion race too! And, at least yesterday, The Captain had Brad’s, or should I really say his, Truck series driver in the 22. That’s why I say that it’s not so much NASCAR not really doing anything about this major series killing problem, as it is owners like Gibbs, and Hendrick, I mean Junior, killing the series for the sake of inflating certain drivers’ egos.
If you love watching arrogant self indulgent multi millionaires compete to see who can steal a payday from a guy struggling week to week to make ends meet have I got a series for you! Let them eat cake. Thanks NASCAR.
What I find bizarre is the concept of crowning a Nationwide Champion when for most of the season fulltime Nationwide-only drivers finished behind the top-three/top-five who were Sprint Cup drivers. Try explaining that to someone new to NASCAR.
Maybe at the NW Champion Banquet the receive a years supply of “Turtle Wax”, for participating, sounds legit.
You mean there are new Nascar fans?
Echoing Ken’s opinion, I found it interesting that Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth seemed to be working together at times to the detriment of Elliott Sadler, who is running for the driver’s championship. While I don’t believe NASCAR is truly a team sport in any meaningful way, the least a Cup driver can do while feeding his ego in the minor leagues is to not hinder a teammate who is actually racing for his career.
I think Rookie of the Year and champ will be a JR Motorsports sweep. Though not a real Regan Smith fan, I won’t rule him out as a championship candidate as long as he’s within a race of the lead. If Sadler had DISASTROUS race due a blown engine and Trevor was third, he could move to 5th. If Chase had a DISASTROUS race, say Dylan Kwasniewski wrecked him and Smith was 5th next race, he’d regain the lead. I remember Smith led for weeks at an earlier point in the season. 2nd-5th could move around easily within the range. Chris Buescher’s 97 points back from 6th, so the top-6 is most likely name locked.
what I said about next race, I meant both things happen in the next race.
Got it right sir. I bet this was just a wonderful “race” to watch. I’m glad I didn’t bother at all. I guess this crap just will not change, so hopefully the series will just die. The absolute greed of these multi multi millionaires is just staggering. How can these egotistical douches even celebrate these wins and act excited when they really only have to beat 2 or 3 other legitimate cars? And once again, the coward “journalist” likes to write warmn, fuzzy articles instead of putting in the “ugly” column the travesty of cup driver and cup team dominance.
And Kyle Larson a Cupper took out Chris B. and nary a word from the booth loving Larson men. Too bad, not even a acknowledgement by Larson of how he impacted a team in the NW. Doesn’t matter if he is a “rookie” or not..he caused a guy running for points…POINTS!