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.
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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