Clean Sweep: Kyle Busch completes Bristol trifecta

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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.

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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.

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Kurt Busch on contract status beyond 2018: ‘we’ll see how it all comes together’

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LOUDON, N.H. — Former champion Kurt Busch said Friday that he’s focused on his performance on the track even though his contract ends after this season.

“For me, I’ve just been racing, driving and performing, doing all the things I can do to exceed in all categories, whether it’s teammate things, things on the track … communication with (crew chief) Billy Scott,” Busch said after winning the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I don’t know many drivers that have a primary sponsor with them. Monster Energy has been very loyal to me. It’s just a matter of when the time is to start talking about a contract. Last year, it went long just because I felt I deserved more. The landscape is changing in NASCAR on primary sponsorship values, teams with the purse and the guarantee that they get off the historical performance. There are a lot of things that move, so we’ll see how it all comes together.”

MORE: Stewart-Haas Racing makes pit crew changes

MORE: Martin Truex Jr. laments sponsor leaving after this year

Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing declined the option on Busch’s contact when there were questions about if Monster Energy would return as a primary sponsor. After that was settled, Busch signed a one-year contract with the team. The deal was announced Dec. 12.

This is Busch’s fifth season with Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s won five races, including the 2017 Daytona 500 with the team. He has made the playoffs each year with SHR.

Busch’s pole Friday was his third of the year. He has yet to win a race this season but has 10 top-10 finishes.

“When you go to a track that you have good vibes about and with the team doing well, it gives you that feeling like you’re a step ahead and you just have to execute with confidence and not get too far off expecting good things to happen,” Busch said. “Just go out there and do your job and that’s what we’re doing right now and it’s great to have the pole with the 41 car.”

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Starting lineup for New Hampshire Cup race

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Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will start from the front row in Sunday’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Busch starts from the pole position for the third time this season and the first time at New Hampshire.

The top five is completed by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.

Alex Bowman in eighth and Daniel Suarez in ninth earned their best starting position at New Hampshire.

Kevin Harvick missed the final round of qualification and starts 14th.

Click here for the complete starting lineup.

Kurt Busch wins pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Kurt Busch posted a lap of 133.591 mph in the final round of qualification for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green on Sunday. Busch was the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to advance to the final round.

This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in July, 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in July, 2007.

He beat Martin Truex Jr. (133.502 mph) by .019 seconds.

Kyle Busch (133.431), Denny Hamlin (133.361) and Ryan Blaney (132.720) round out the top five.

Alex Bowman (132.618) had the fastest Chevrolet in eighth. This is his best New Hampshire start in his seventh race.

Kevin Harvick (132.554) failed to advance to the final round and posted the 14th fastest time.

Kyle Larson (132.039) failed to back up his practice speed. He had the third fastest car in that session, but failed to make the final round and qualified 20th.

Last year, Kyle Busch won from the pole for the first time since Ryan Newman did so in the July 2011.This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in 2007.

Daniel Suarez  (132.581) in ninth earned his best New Hampshire start in three tries.

NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: Today’s action from New Hampshire

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and gets a jump on this weekend’s racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut.

On today’s show:

  • The New Hampshire race weekend is off and running. Carolyn and Parker have complete coverage following today’s practices and Monster Energy Series qualifying from Loudon.
  • They will get reaction from several drivers, including the one who will start from the pole in Sunday’s race.
  • Plus, New England native Parker Kligerman jumps in the NBC Sports iRacing simulator to show us the challenges of racing the Magic Mile.
  • Nate Ryan of NBCSports.com examines the dominance of NASCAR’s Big 3 of Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.