By Tyler Head
April 16, 2018
BRISTOL, Tenn.—A bump-and-run pass in the closing laps of the Food City 500 propelled Kyle Busch to his second consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Busch used the front bumper of his No. 18 Toyota Camry to move Kyle Larson up the banking in Turns 3 and 4 and took the lead with just five laps left Monday afternoon.
“I know Larson was a little bit loose right there,” Busch said. “It seemed like he was over driving and trying to hold the bottom, but he was slipping out of the bottom and I got a huge run on him and got to him and it was just on.
“I knew I might as well just take the opportunity that I got right now.”
Busch went on to claim his seventh career Cup win at Bristol Motor Speedway. The victory is also his second consecutive at the Tennessee half-mile track.
“I was breathing hard there those last 20 laps, whatever it was,” Busch said. “That was a heck of a run right there with the 42 (Kyle Larson) – chasing him down, being able to get to him, being able to get by him and then trying to hold him off with some lap traffic ahead of us.”
Busch has now won 45 times in NASCAR’s premier series, 16th on the all-time wins list.
KYLE AND KYLE SHOW
After rainy weather plagued the race Sunday, causing several red flags and ultimately forcing nearly 300 laps of the 500-lap race to be run Monday, a restart with 22 laps to go set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Larson, who led a race-high 200 laps, led the field on the restart but had to fend off a fierce challenge from Stenhouse and later Busch.
“As soon as we restarted there, I was extremely loose,” Larson said. “The No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse) got to my inside. I just really didn’t have any grip. I thought it would tighten-up for me and I could get going, but it never really did and I was just really loose.”
He successfully held of Stenhouse’s charge, but quickly had Busch fill up his rear-view mirror. With six laps to go, Busch put the bumper to Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro, moving him out of the way and taking the lead.
“I hate that I didn’t win, it’s another one at Bristol,” Larson said. “I feel like every time I race here I almost get a win… I’ve been beat by Kyle (Busch) about every time I race here, too, so that gets frustrating after a while.”
Larson was forced to settle for second. Jimmie Johnson picked up his first top-five finish of the 2018 season with a third-place run, followed by Stenhouse and Alex Bowman in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Busch entered Bristol as the points leader and now unofficially holds a 59 point lead over second place Joey Logano, who finished ninth Monday.
After Monday afternoon’s action, NASCAR’s top series has a short turnaround to Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway, the first night race of the 2018 season.