Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS — May 2, 2021
After last week’s wild action at Talladega Superspeedway, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to the mile and a half tracks with a stop at Kansas Speedway. The Buschy McBusch Race 400 will provide another opportunity to add a new name to the nine different winners who have already visited victory lane in 2021.
Denny Hamlin(11), Kevin Harvick(4), Chase Elliott(9), and Kyle Busch(18) have gone winless so far this year. Chances are good that one of the four could remove their name from the list in today’s race.
The 400.5 miles require 267 laps around the 1.5-mile track. Stages are 80/80/107 laps. Talladega winner Brad Keselowski(2) is scheduled to start on the pole with William Byron(24) beside him. Denny Hamlin is the defending champion of last year’s event, he starts 20th after his worst finish of the year last week.
Ross Chastain(42) and Erik Jones(43) will drop to the rear of the field for failing pre-race inspection. Anthony Alfredo(38) will join them after being penalized by NASCAR for improper adjustments to his race car.
With a push from fellow Ford Mustang driver Michael McDowell(34), Keselowski drove to the lead in the first turn. But, he could not pull away from Byron who ran in his tire tracks until the competition caution waved after Lap 25.
Keselowski maintained the lead exiting pit road first followed by Byron, Christopher Bell(20), Tyler Reddick(8), and Harvick. This time Byron drove side-by-side Keselowski for a lap and a half until Brad moved out in front again.
Ryan Newman was black flagged and forced to return to pit road. During their pit stop, the jack-man pulled out a body panel behind the right front tire. This created a flare that improves the handling dynamics of the car. They had to come back to the pits for the crew to flatten out the panel. It cost Newman a lap on the track as he returned to the race in 33rd place.
Late in the Stage, Kyle Larson(5) drove to the rear bumper of the leader. He passed Keselowski on Lap 64, Brad trapped him behind a lapped car and regained the lead on the backstretch.
Larson moved to the lead with six laps to go. The lead changed again as Kyle Busch(18) took over with three laps to go. The birthday boy held on to take the green and white checkered flag as drivers scrambled for Stage points behind him.
Stage 1 Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Kyle Busch led the race off pit road, he will have Tyler Reddick(8), Keselowski, Byron, and Ryan Blaney(12) following the #18 car to the Stage 2 restart. But it was Larson who jumped to the lead in Turn 1 and began to pull away from the drivers battling two & three wide behind him.
Green flag pit stops began at the halfway point of the stage. Several drivers stayed out hoping for a caution that would improve their track position. Larson was back out front when everyone finally made their service stop, Kyle Busch remained 2nd, but he lost time to the leader in the process.
Larson gets the Stage win, followed by Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Stage 2 Results
|7||19||Martin Truex Jr.||4|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
On the restart, Larson and Kyle Busch swapped the top spot for a lap before Larson pulled away. Denny Hamlin, after starting in 20th, finally worked his way into the Top 5. He passed Busch for the second position. Does Hamlin have anything for Larson? As it appears the #5 car may become the 2nd repeat winner in 2021.
Most of the leaders pitted with 56 to 54 laps to go. Again, Larson maintained the lead over Hamlin with Kyle Busch in 3rd, Harvick in 4th, and Blaney in 5th. NASCAR displayed the caution with 37 laps to go to retrieve a tire from Tyler Reddick’s car that had rolled across pit road during the last series of pit stops. Reddick was penalized for the error with a drive down pit road under green.
All of the leaders came to pit road for fresh tires and to top off fuel for the sprint to the finish. Harvick had an uncontrolled tire during his stop and will have to start at the end of the lead lap cars.
Joey Logano(22) only took two tires during his stop and improved his track position to 4th. Behind Larson, Hamlin, and Kyle Busch. The race restarted with 32 laps to go. Hamlin was able to capture the lead after fighting Larson for two laps. Kyle Busch, Blaney, and Keselowski followed.
Hamlin, driving with his eyes in his mirror, blocked every run Larson tried to make. Then, with 24 laps to go Hamlin pushed too hard coming off Turn 4 and scrapped the wall. Damage to the right side of the #11 car caused tires to go down, the yellow flag waved again as Hamlin worked his damaged car to pit road.
The leaders stayed out but most everyone from Keselowski back chose to pit for fresh tires. The race comes down to a battle between track position and new rubber. The restart with 18 laps to go had Larson on the high side with Busch on the bottom, Blaney, and Logano behind them respectively.
Larson won the sprint to Turn 1, Kyle Busch tucked in behind the leader. However, it was Keselowski with new tires moving up to 3rd.
With 15 laps to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) spun down the backstretch and the caution came out again. With Keselowski on fresh Goodyears starting in 3rd, will he be able to make a move on the top past Larson and Kyle Busch when the race restarts with 10 laps to go?
Kyle Busch got the jump this time, but they could not even complete a lap until Bell lost it Turn 3 taking out Stenhouse during his spin. The incident scrambled the front of the field with Busch out front, Blaney in 2nd, Larson dropped to 3rd, with Martin Truex Jr. and Keselowski rounding out the Top 5.
Back to green with 2 laps to go and overtime looming. Busch took the lead with a push from teammate Truex. Larson was pushing Blaney and both cars got sideways, somehow they each made a spectacular save and the race stayed green. Both lost considerable track position.
On his 36th birthday, Kyle Busch gets his first win of the year becoming the 10th winner in 11 races of the 2021 season.
The Ford Mustangs of Harvick, Keselowski and Matt DiBenedetto(21) finished 2nd through 4th. Chase Elliott(9) grabbed the 5th finishing position. Larson finished 19th and Blaney 21st.
With recent strong runs, Matt Dibenedetto has moved into a playoff position. If there are any left to go in on points. Names like Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Aric Almirola are on the outside looking to somehow climb into contention.
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||394||In Win(2)|
|2||William Byron||385||In Win|
|3||Joey Logano*||373||In Win|
|4||Ryan Blaney*||370||In Win|
|5||Brad Keselowski*||366||In Win|
|6||Kyle Larson||337||In Win|
|7||Kyle Busch||330||In Win|
|8||Christopher Bell||292||In Win|
|9||Michael McDowell*||268||In Win|
|10||Alex Bowman||260||In Win|
|Nascar Playoff Cut Line|
|19||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.*||232||-18|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the Buschy McBusch Race 400 from Kansas Speedway
|6||19||Martin Truex Jr.||0.914||267|
|34||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||-9||258|