Busch, victorious at Martinsville, advances to Homestead with shot at title
By Dominic Aragon
October 29, 2017
Kyle Busch will be racing for a his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in three weeks.
Busch came away victorious in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway Sunday with a last lap pass on Denny Hamlin for the victory in the opening race of the Round of 8.
Busch will be a championship contender at Homestead-Miami Speedway for a third consecutive year.
“It’s huge, it’s our opportunity to succeed and you know God’s given us every opportunity to go do that,” Busch said. “Joe and J.D. Gibbs, Coy Gibbs, everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing team, they’re phenomenal.
“Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys had a great race car for me prepared for this weekend. We tested up here, we came here and we were really good yesterday and we just came out on top today.”
OTHER PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Six of the top-eight finishers were playoff drivers.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second, Brad Keselowski was fourth, Kevin Harvick fifth, Denny Hamlin finished seventh and Ryan Blaney was eighth.
Jimmie Johnson, who started in the rear, led 24 laps and ultimately finished 12th.
“We were just terrible all day,” Johnson said. “Oh, what a bummer. We had high hopes for this weekend. Man, it just didn’t turn out so well. So, we scored some points here and there.
“We will go to the next one and try to get more.”
ELLIOTT, HAMLIN TANGLE ON TRACK
Chase Elliott was the only playoff driver to finish off of the lead lap.
Elliott was leading the race with three laps to go in regulation but spun out after contact with Denny Hamlin sent the driver spinning into the Turn 3 wall. He finished 27th, one lap down.
“He came over and talked to me on the back straightaway and he said somebody was pushing him, but it wasn’t two car lengths between him and the next guy,” Elliott said. “So, my Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice not to say anything at all.
“So, it’s not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas.”
Hamlin gave his take about the on-track run-in with Elliott.
“I got into the back of him and he spun out,” he said. “Trying to get a race win, everyone wrecked everybody there at the end. It was complete [expletive] chaos.
“I got in the back of him and he spun out. Somebody got into the back of me and I wrecked too. It was just a mess at the end. I mean, you know everybody is doing the exact same thing.
“I hate it for his team, I understand they had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead.”
STAGE POINTS EARNED BY PLAYOFF DRIVERS
Brad Keselowski - 20
Kyle Busch - 18
Chase Elliott - 11
Martin Truex Jr. - 11
Ryan Blaney - 9
Jimmie Johnson - 8
Kevin Harvick - 4
Denny Hamlin - 1
UNOFFICIAL POINTS AFTER MARTINSVILLE
1) Kyle Busch 1 WIN
2) Martin Truex Jr. +40
3) Brad Keselowski +29
4) Kevin Harvick +3
5) Jimmie Johnson -3
6) Ryan Blaney -6
7) Denny Hamlin -8
8) Chase Elliott -26
Jonny Olkowsi/The Racing Experts
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