Kyle Busch needed to score and in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, he did in every way he could.
“We led the most laps and we won the race. That’s all you can score,” Busch told NBCSN after winning his second Sprint Cup race in three weeks.
Busch started ninth and led four times for 163 laps and did what he couldn’t in Friday night’s Xfinity Series, where he led the most laps but finished third.
Busch dueled with Joey Logano beginning with 23 to go, as the two exchanged the lead once before Busch finally took over for good with 20 laps left. Busch attributed his ability to get to the front to his team’s performance on pit road and the rules package that made its debut at the 1.5-mile track.
“It just seemed like you weren’t stuck,” Busch said. “Logano moved up and blocked my lane and with the old package you would just kind of get stalled out and get stuck behind them. This one here, I could move around. I went back to the bottom, made a move on him and passed him low.”
The win gives Busch two at Kentucky after he won the inaugural Sprint Cup race there in 2011.
“It’s pretty cool to come into Kentucky, one of my best places and score a win,” Busch said. “You gotta be able to score that win.”
Busch needs average a 17th-place finish in the next eight races to reach the projected total to be 30th in points. Then he would be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
How Kyle Busch won: Busch started ninth, but quickly moved up through the field and was able to take and retain the lead through multiple times through pit stops. Busch took the lead for the final time from Joey Logano with 20 laps remaining and won by 1.5 seconds.
Who had a good day: Brad Keselowski had the other car to beat, leading twice for 62 laps. Errors on pit road buried him far enough in the field to keep him from making one last rally. … Kurt Busch, who started 13th, brought out the fourth caution of the night when spun out of Turn 4 and into the grass on Lap 98. Cautions helped him get back on the lead lap and finish 10th. … Joe Gibbs Racing. All four cars finished in the top five even after Denny Hamlin was penalized for speeding on pit road on Lap 72. Thanks to well-timed cautions, Hamlin was back on the lead lap and found himself in third at night’s end.
Who had a bad day: Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a rough day thanks to brake issues which culminated with a meeting with the outside wall on Lap 137. Break issues resurfaced on Lap 208 when Earnhardt hit Danica Patrick’s rear bumper, sending here into the Turn 3 wall. Earnhardt finished 21st on the lead lap … Tony Stewart’s nightmare season continued when he was involved in a four-car accident on Lap 144. He would finish 33rd, two laps down … Pole-sitter Kyle Larson suffered damage to his rear bumper during a mid-race restart, forcing the No. 42 to pit with 51 laps left. Larson’s new left-rear tire was instantly cut down when he returned to the track, bringing out a caution. Larson finished 35th, two laps down.
Notable: Saturday’s race, the fifth Sprint Cup event at Kentucky, broke the race record for cautions with 11 … In his final race at Kentucky, Jeff Gordon finished seventh … Joe Gibbs Racing put all four of its drivers in the top five for the first time in team history.
Quote of the night: “I know I won, but so far, so good. I like the new aero package, obviously.” – Kyle Busch after winning the first Sprint Cup race with a new rules package.
What’s next: New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, July 19 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.