Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Cup Series drivers headed to Kansas Speedway for the Buschy McBusch Race 400. There were concerns about rainfall as the race approached, but the weather held long enough for a fascinating battle to unfold. Kyle Larson dominated during the race, but a late collision with the wall sealed Kyle Busch’s first win of the year.
Busch met with reporter Jamie Little after the win and delivered an emotional speech on his birthday. He talked about the difficulties of the past year, including him and his wife Samantha struggling with infertility. Busch then thanked all of the fans for coming out to the race and supporting him and the other drivers.
Sunday’s race began with multiple lead changes and very few cautions. However, the number increased in the third stage as multiple drivers slammed into the wall, including Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon. These cautions forced all of the drivers on the lead lap to make tough decisions about tires and pit stops.
The cautions continued with multiple wrecks in the final 20 laps. One collision hurt cars driven by Austin Cindric and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Another involved Stenhouse, Ryan Preece, and Christopher Bell. This final caution sent the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro to the garage early and set up a late shootout between the top drivers.
Kyle Busch made the best moves late in Stage 1
Early in Sunday’s race, it appeared that Brad Keselowski would race to his second consecutive win of the 2021 season. The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang took control early and maintained his advantage for the majority of the first stage. However, Larson took the lead from him late as the laps dwindled.
Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro did not remain in the lead for very long. Busch raced through the field and passed Larson with mere laps remaining. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry remained at the front of the pack for the remainder of the stage, taking his first green and white checkered flag of the season.
The stage win, Busch’s first of the season, was important as he tried to recover from a rough start to the season. The No. 18 crashed late in the season-opening Daytona 500, resulting in a 14th-place finish. Busch then finished 35th in the Daytona Road Course race.
The two-time Cup Series champion partially recovered from the early struggles, posting five top-10 finishes and two top-fives. These performances boosted him to 11th in the points standings entering Kansas Speedway, but the veteran still needed a win in order to reach the playoffs once again.
With the win, Busch set up a return to the playoffs and moved him up the leaderboard. He also became the 10th driver in 11 races to win, further muddying the playoff picture and creating intrigue about how the top 16 will look at the end of the regular season.
Uncontrolled tires disrupted multiple drivers
There were several drivers in contention for a top finish late in Stage 3. Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick were among the group as they raced in the top 10. However, both men had to move to the rear of the field after penalties for uncontrolled tires.
Reddick’s pit crew was the first to lose the tire. The Goodyear went rolling across pit road as the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro stopped for a fresh set. The tire came to a rest in the grass and remained there for multiple laps until the caution flag waved.
Once NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag and brought the race to a crawl, Harvick and many other drivers headed to pit road for new tires. However, the No. 4 team also lost a tire and received a penalty in return. Harvick dropped to the back of the pack along with Daniel Suarez, another driver whose team had an uncontrolled tire.
READ NEXT: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Faces Off With NASCAR Legends in iRacing [WATCH]