Yes, it’s Bristol, baby, but Saturday night it was Kyle Busch, baby, as Busch won the Night Race and completed his sweep of the Truck, Xfinity and Cup races this week at the half-mile track.
Busch passed rookie Erik Jones, seeking his first career Cup win, with 56 laps left and went on to score his second victory of the year. Busch held off a charge from Jones late, winding his way through traffic as Jones got held up.
It’s the second time Busch swept the Truck, Xfinity and Cup races at Bristol, doing so in 2010. This also was Busch’s 40th career Cup win.
MORE: Race Results
MORE: Points Report
“Man, Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” Busch told NBC Sports at the start/finish line. “That was all that I had. I was running with my tongue hanging out.”
Said Jones: “We race hard all night. We led a lot of laps. We did almost everything we needed to do. I wish we had a little bit more. It’s a bummer.”
Denny Hamlin placed third and was followed by Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.
Busch’s victory and points leader Martin Truex Jr.’s woes (loose rear wheel and pit road penalty) kept Truex from clinching the regular-season title and 15 playoff points that go with it. Truex leads Busch by 101 points with two races to go until the playoffs begin.
Busch’s victory was his sixth Cup win at Bristol. That leads all active Cup drivers and ranks fifth all-time at that track.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch
STAGE 2 WINNER: Matt Kenseth
HOW DID KYLE BUSCH WIN: He had the best car, hunted the leaders and did what he had done this week after winning the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series races this week at Bristol.
WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Rookie Erik Jones led a race-high 260 laps and finished a career-best second. … Matt Kenseth rebounded from a speeding penalty to finish fourth. … Kurt Busch, making his 600th career Cup start, finished fifth even after hitting the wall during the race. .
WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Brad Keselowski suffered a cut left front tire after contact and was four laps down before Lap 10 of the race. He never recovered and finished 29th. … Martin Truex Jr., had to pit for a loose right rear wheel as the race started shortly after Lap 200. Truex then was penalized for an outside tire violation and was two laps behind the leaders after serving the penalty. He finished 21st.
NOTABLE: Toyota went 1-2-3-4 with Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. It is the second time in the last three races that Toyota took the top four spots in a Cup race.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I can’t fight as much as I want to fight on social. There’s a lot of trolls out there, so my guys do it for me, so I appreciate them and being able to do that,” winner Kyle Busch on the support of his fan base, Rowdy Nation.
NEXT: The Cup Series is off next weekend and returns to action Sept. 3 for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on NBCSN.