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Kurt Busch takes dramatic playoff win at Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch took home the daily double on Sunday night at Las Vegas, earning his first Cup Series win at his hometown track and advancing to the semifinal round of the 2020 playoffs.

Busch held off Matt DiBenedetto in a wild, two-lap overtime to win the SouthPoint 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his first victory at his hometown track in 22 career starts.

The win is Busch’s first of the 2020 season and couldn’t come at a better time, locking him into the semifinal round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes at Talladega, Ala., and the Charlotte Roval over the next two weeks.

Kurt Busch got a congratulatory bump from his younger brother, Kyle, on the cool-down lap after earning his win.

"This is 20 years of agony, defeat and now triumph," Busch said after the race. "This is what kids dream of when they grow up racing. You dream of winning at your hometown track and for two decades it has kicked my butt. 

"I'm in awe. You have to be lucky. This is Vegas. I miss the fans. This is so special. So special."

Asked about picking up his first series win at Las Vegas but with no fans, Busch said: "I know they're celebrating. They're enjoying this just as much as I am."

 

Busch was thrust into position to contend for the win when a caution interrupted the final round of green-flag pit stops and Busch was one of the few who had not yet pit.

On Lap 243 of 268 laps, Busch lined up second on the restart and quickly powered into the lead after a side-by-side battle with DiBenedetto that lasted nearly a lap.

DiBenedetto ended up second, Denny Hamlin was third, Martin Truex Jr. was fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-five.

"It's heartbreaking to come that close," DiBenedetto said. "Once we lost control ... Kurt had completely different (gear) ratios and he knew it. Man, I wanted to get the Wood Brothers' 100th win so dang bad."

Completing the top-10 were Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick.

Entering next weekend race at Talladega, the four drivers in danger of not advancing to the next round are Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, Hamlin was the first off pit road following pit stops.

On the restart on Lap 167, Hamlin was followed by Bowman and Chase Elliott.

Bowman got around Hamlin off Turn 4 on the restart lap to grab the lead for the first time in the race.

On Lap 172, Hamlin got around Bowman off Turn 2 to reclaim the lead.

On Lap 176, Elliott went to the outside of Bowman in the middle of the backstretch and took over the second position, less than a second behind Hamlin.

NASCAR threw a caution on Lap 191 for debris in Turn 2. The lead-lap cars all pit with Hamlin the first off pit road.

Austin Dillon had to restart from the rear of the field due to a safety violation during his pit stop.

On the restart on Lap 197, Hamlin was followed by Truex and Bowman.

DiBenedetto went four-wide out of Turn 3 to grab the second spot behind Hamlin on the restart.

 

On Lap 202, Bowman got around DiBenedetto in Turns 1 and 2 and to take over the second position.

On Lap 215, Austin Dillon made a green-flag pit stop after complaining about a possible power steering issue.

With 50 laps remaining in the race, Hamlin held a 1.6-second lead over Bowman with DiBenedetto still in third.

All lead-lap cars still had to make one final stop for fuel in order to finish the race.

On Lap 232, Harvick and Kyle Busch were among the first to kick off green-flag pit stops to take new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race.

On Lap 236, a caution was displayed for debris on the backstretch after Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet suffered a flat tire and dropped pieces on the track. Just about every playoff driver was caught a lap down by the caution, having recently completed their respective stops.

Following stops by those who still had to pit, DiBenedetto led the way followed by Kurt Busch and Nemechek on the restart on Lap 243. Bowman, in 10th, was the only other playoff driver on the lead-lap.

Kurt Busch went side-by-side with DiBenedetto for nearly a lap before emerging with the lead.

On Lap 250, John Hunter Nemechek and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked in Turns 3 and 4 in an incident in which Erik Jones also received damage. Kurt Busch also reported that he may have a flat tire.

Several lead-lap cars pit but Kurt Busch remained on the track and in the lead. On the restart on Lap 256, Busch was followed by DiBenedetto and Bell. Bowman was the next playoff driver after Busch, in sixth.

With 10 to go, Bowman moved into third, behind Kurt Busch and DiBenedetto.

With seven laps to go, Bell got into the wall and William Byron spun down the frontstretch to bring out another caution. Corey LaJoie was also involved in the incident.

The race returned to green with a two-lap overtime with Kurt Busch out front followed by DiBenedetto, Bowman and Hamlin.

Stage 2

Elliott withstood a late charge from Hamlin to hang on for the Stage 2 victory.

Bowman was third, Truex fourth and Blaney rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit with Kyle Busch once again the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 87, Kyle Busch was followed by Joey Logano and Hamlin.

Logano quickly grabbed the lead on the restart only to see Hamlin use a 3-wide move to reclaim the top spot on Lap 88.

On Lap 90, Logano dove down pit road for new tires after developing a tire rub from contact with Kyle Busch.

 

Busch also appeared to suffer some damage from a run-in with the wall. “Pulling it out isn’t gonna fix it at all,” he said over his team radio. “It’s messed up the crush panel so it’s taken the speed out of it. It’s got no (expletive) speed.”

On Lap 92, Elliott got to the inside of Hamlin in Turn 3 and reclaimed the lead.

Bowman moved into the third spot on Lap 104 as Kyle Busch remained fourth despite the damage to his No. 18 Toyota.

With 45 laps remaining in the second stage, Elliott held about a 1-second lead over Hamlin with Bowman still in third.

All teams still need a pit stop to make it to the finish of the stage and on Lap 118, Truex was the first to hit pit road. Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Harvick all soon followed.

Johnson was penalized during his top for being too fast on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty under green.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 145, Elliott returned to the lead.

With 10 laps remaining in the second stage, Elliott held a 1.1-second lead over Hamlin while Bowman ran third, more than 4 seconds behind the leader.

With five laps to go, Hamlin appeared to be gaining on Elliott as he tried for a late-stage pass for the lead.

Stage 1

Hamlin grabbed control of the race late in the stage and cruised to the Stage 1 win over Logano.

Kyle Busch was third, Elliott fourth and Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Harvick, who started on the pole, saw Elliott get past him entering Turn 1 on the first lap and grab the lead as Logano moved into second.

On Lap 11, Kyle Busch went to the inside of Logano to take over the second position.

On Lap 26, NASCAR displayed a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear. All lead-lap cars elected to pit with Kyle Busch the first off pit road.

Both sByron and Christopher Bell were penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

The race returned to green on Lap 31 with Kyle Busch out front followed by Hamlin and Elliott.

Hamlin powered around Kyle Busch exiting Turn 4 on the restart lap to grab the lead for the first time in the race.

 

With 40 laps remaining in the first stage, Hamlin maintained about a half-second lead over Logano as Kyle Busch ran third.

With 25 laps to go, Hamlin’s lead over Logano had expanded to nearly 1-second ad Kyle Busch remained third, 3 seconds behind the leader.

Hamlin’s lead over Logano pushed to nearly 3 seconds with 10 laps remaining in the first stage. They were followed by Kyle Busch, Elliott and Harvick.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 268 3:03'31.724     29
2 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 268 3:03'31.872 0.148 0.148 8
3 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 268 3:03'31.998 0.274 0.126 121
4 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 268 3:03'32.127 0.403 0.129  
5 88 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 268 3:03'32.152 0.428 0.025 5
6 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 268 3:03'32.320 0.596 0.168 6
7 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 268 3:03'32.329 0.605 0.009 1
8 20 United States Erik Jones Toyota 268 3:03'32.728 1.004 0.399  
9 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 268 3:03'32.748 1.024 0.020 10
10 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 268 3:03'32.906 1.182 0.158  
11 48 United States Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 268 3:03'32.982 1.258 0.076  
12 14 United States Clint Bowyer Ford 268 3:03'33.048 1.324 0.066  
13 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 268 3:03'33.122 1.398 0.074 2
14 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 268 3:03'33.239 1.515 0.117 1
15 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 268 3:03'33.282 1.558 0.043  
16 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 268 3:03'33.434 1.710 0.152  
17 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 268 3:03'33.461 1.737 0.027  
18 42 United States Matt Kenseth Chevrolet 268 3:03'33.586 1.862 0.125  
19 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 268 3:03'33.787 2.063 0.201  
20 38 United States John Hunter Nemechek Ford 268 3:03'33.789 2.065 0.002  
21 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 268 3:03'33.879 2.155 0.090  
22 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 268 3:03'34.029 2.305 0.150 73
23 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 268 3:03'34.631 2.907 0.602  
24 95 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 268 3:03'34.673 2.949 0.042  
25 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 268 3:03'34.795 3.071 0.122 12
26 13 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 267 3:03'36.465 1 Lap 1 Lap  
27 32 United States Corey Lajoie Ford 267 3:04'01.865 1 Lap 25.400  
28 43 United States Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 266 3:03'35.146 2 Laps 1 Lap  
29 96 Mexico Daniel Suarez Toyota 265 3:03'34.283 3 Laps 1 Lap  
30 15 United States Brennan Poole Chevrolet 265 3:03'35.281 3 Laps 0.998  
31 27 United States Gray Gaulding Ford 262 3:03'42.028 6 Laps 3 Laps  
32 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 261 3:03'36.742 7 Laps 1 Lap  
33 77 United States J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 261 3:03'39.526 7 Laps 2.784  
34 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 259 3:03'40.722 9 Laps 2 Laps  
35 51 United States Joey Gase Ford 256 3:03'43.464 12 Laps 3 Laps  
36 53 United States Josh Bilicki Chevrolet 227 2:41'06.154 41 Laps 29 Laps  
37 66 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 160 2:15'22.080 108 Laps 67 Laps  
38 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 157 1:35'31.754 111 Laps 3 Laps  
39 49 United States Chad Finchum Toyota 19 12'25.726 249 Laps 138 Laps  

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Las Vegas II
Drivers Kurt Busch
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Author Jim Utter