After hearing that Sunday’s win at Sonoma Raceway by Kyle Busch marked the first 1-2 finish in a NASCAR Sprint Cup event with his younger brother, runner-up Kurt Busch quipped: “Now I wish I would have gone up there and moved him.’’
Kurt Busch didn’t get the chance but scored his third consecutive top-five finish to move into the top 10 in points – despite missing the first three races of the season when he was suspended because of a protective order related to domestic violence allegations.
Busch said his strong run – he won two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway – gives him a feeling he hasn’t had in years.
“There’s so many things that have gone into place for us to be successful, and the No. 1 thing is Tony Gibson, the crew chief at SHR,’’ Busch said. “I love the team camaraderie. I haven’t had this type of team chemistry since my championship year (2004).’’
Busch, who led 43 of the 110 laps, was fortunate to finish second after an off-course excursion while passing Joey Logano caused a flat left-rear tire late in the race. A caution from lap 100-103 because of Casey Mears’ broken axle allowed Busch to pit without losing his chance to win.
After the race restated, Busch struggled to get around Clint Bowyer for second before he could focus on his brother.
“I needed to get by Bowyer sooner, and to have at shot at racing Kyle,’’ Busch said. “I wish I could have gotten closer to him to give the fans the show that they came to see, not that they didn’t get a good one.
“We had a fast, fast race car, and we had what I thought was the winning strategy to have the cooler tires and not so much worn‑out tires at the end, and as the race unfolded, we had two sequences that went against us. I still thought we had a strong enough car to overcome that, and one of them was the way that (Kyle Busch) got onto pit road before one of the yellows came out, and then we just had a tough pit stop on one of them and lost two spots, and so that sequence was about four positions on track.’’
Even if Busch got close to the his sibling on the final lap, he would have waited to try to shove Kyle aside.
“Both guys in front of me were trying to win their first race of the year,’’ Kurt Busch said of Bowyer and Kyle Busch. “When I got word that Bowyer was blocking, which I could kind of get a tendency to think that he was, when you get like three or four chances, that’s when it’s time to move somebody.
“That’s why if I would have gotten to Kyle, still I would have had to have given him a couple shots to try to mess up his rhythm. I wasn’t going to flat‑out move him, but when somebody is holding you up three to four times a lap, then you’ve got the opportunity to try to make a pass, and I just never got there.’’