Breaking Down the Biggest Races of 2021 So Far: Kansas

Kyle Busch

Getty Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning in Kansas.

The NASCAR Cup Series is on a break due to the Olympics, providing ample time to examine past races. The next race is the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas, which Kyle Busch won in wild fashion on his 36th birthday.

The early portions of the race on May 2 prominently featured Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson. He led 132 of the 267 laps, the best in the Cup Series. However, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro missed out on an opportunity to return to Victory Lane after late contact with Ryan Blaney. Busch capitalized on the opportunity and raced his way to the finish line for his first win of the season.

Following the win, Busch headed to the airport for the flight home. Instead of simply sitting in the waiting area and relaxing, he came face to face with a surprise. His older brother Kurt hired a Mariachi band to provide some entertainment while they kicked back and drank beer.


The Ford Drivers Created Highlights in Kansas

Kevin Harvick

GettyKevin Harvick races at Kansas Speedway.

While Busch captured the first win of the season, two other drivers turned in strong performances to boost their respective points totals. Brad Keselowski, fresh off a win in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, led 72 of the first 80 laps.

Kevin Harvick, on the other hand, continued his strong season despite remaining winless. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang, started fourth overall and raced his way to a second-place finish. He achieved this goal by using fresher tires to overtake Martin Truex Jr. on the last lap.

Meanwhile, Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto took fourth place in the race, his second consecutive top-five finish of the season. He rebounded from the beginning of the season marked by struggles and put himself into contention for a playoff spot.


The Contact Between Larson & Blaney Took Away a Potential Wild Battle

Busch capturing the win divided the fans in attendance and ensured that the two-time champion would take a bow with the checkered flag. However, the win felt slightly hollow. The reason is that Busch didn’t have the opportunity to take part in one final epic battle.

Larson and Busch traded stage wins during the early portions of the race and created the expectation that they would continue to battle during the final segment. They raced hard for a while, but the battle came to an end during the final restart. Larson lined up on the second row and tried to push Blaney past Busch, but they both went into the wall and dropped back to the middle of the pack with sustaining damage to their respective stock cars.

“I had the 2 [Keselowski] behind me and he didn’t get to my bumper and I think he had to protect behind him and it just allowed the bottom [row] to get a good jump on us and the bottom two lanes cleared me,” Larson said after the race, per NASCAR.

“I was back to third and planned on pushing [Ryan] Blaney as good as I could and obviously, I pushed too hard and got him loose and chased both of us back into the wall. I was just trying to help him stay side by side with the 18 [Busch] on the back to allow myself to have some sort of opportunity, but I just pushed too hard. That’s really the first time I was behind somebody on a restart. I learned for next time.”

With the collision relegating Larson to a 19th-place finish, fans did not have the opportunity to watch two of the best drivers in the Cup Series face off during the final laps. Instead, they had to wait for the doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway where Busch captured his second win of the season.

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