Kyle Busch earns milestone 200th NASCAR win in dominating fashion

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Kyle Busch made NASCAR history Sunday with his 200th career victory in one of NASCAR’s top three national series, capturing the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Busch earned his 53rd career Cup victory (and fourth at Fontana), adding to his 94 wins in the Xfinity Series and 53 wins in the Truck Series. He becomes only the second driver in NASCAR history to reach the 200-win mark, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (who earned 200 wins in NASCAR’s premier series).

Busch led 134 of 200 laps and won by 2.354 seconds. It was his second conseuctive Cup victory after his win last Sunday at ISM Raceway. He also is the first driver with multiple victories this season.

Busch’s 200th win came at the same 2-mile track where he earned his first career Cup win on Sept. 4, 2005.

MORE: Auto Club 400 results and updated points standings

“It feels just like No. 1, just like yesterday,” Busch told Fox Sports after climbing out of his No. 18 Toyota on the frontstretch. “It was such an awesome race car. I mean, dang. I’m glad we put on a heck of a show for all these fans here at Auto Club Speedway.

“To win 200, whatever it means, it means a lot to me and all my guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. You’re the best. I just wish we could keep it going, keep it going like this, running strong, running well and winning these races.”

Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski finished second and third, respectively, in the third and final race of the annual West Coast swing. Kevin Harvick rallied in the closing laps to finish fourth, followed by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.

“We came so close, but I’m proud of the effort,” Logano said of his fourth consecutive top-5 finish at Fontana. “We hung in there all day, hung strong, just didn’t have enough to beat that green car (Busch’s car).”

Said Keselowski, who led 42 laps: “We got a lot better from the first run to the end. … I couldn’t stay up front. I brushed the wall a bit earlier. They fixed it; we kept working on it, and we got a solid day.”

Sixth through 10th were Kurt Busch — the highest-finishing Chevrolet driver with his fourth consecutive top 10 — followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon.

Kyle Busch won both stages for the third time in his career (also in the 2018 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2017 Brickyard 400). Because of pit stops and a speeding penalty on pit road, he restarted 18th after the second stage. He roared back to the lead with 26 laps remaining and pulled away for his milestone victory.

“Sometimes, you have to have a little bit of luck on your side,” Busch said. “It certainly is a monumental moment for all of us. Maybe the stars aligned a little bit for us today.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Team Penske was the most dominating team with three drivers in the top-5 (Logano second, Keselowski third and Blaney fifth). … Harvick struggled with his car throughout the race but was able to bounce back late to earn his third fourth-place finish of the season and fourth consecutive top-10.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Clint Bowyer suffered mechanical problems with 70 laps to go and finished last in the 38-car field. … Rookie Daniel Hemric finished eight laps down in 33rd.

NOTABLE: Austin Dillon had to take two bags of IV fluids before the race to help him battle flu. With Saturday’s Xfinity winner Cole Custer on standby, Dillon was able to run the entire race and wound up with a respectable 10th-place finish.

WHAT’S NEXT: STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 24 (FS1); green flag at 2 p.m. ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings