With the victory at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 54th Annual Advocare 500, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry locks his place into The Chase for the Sprint Cup Champion 2013. Busch now has 4 victories for the 2013 season, and 28 wins in 318 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
Over his in-car radio, to his crew, Busch yelled, “Yeah! Thank-You, Atlanta has been defeated once again.” Kyle Busch first victory at Atlanta came in the spring race in 2008.
In the Nationwide Series, on Saturday night Busch led 57 laps but finished 2nd after a late race pass. But tonight was his night as Busch, who led 36 laps, ran near the front most of the night before surging to the lead, and remaining in the top spot for the end of the race.
“I wasn’t happy with the race car at all in the beginning of the race,” Busch said in the victory lane. “Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys made some great adjustments to get us back up front; this M&M’S Camry wasn’t good to start but was good at the end and it was good to get to the front.” Pointing towards his crew standing behind him, “My boys on pit road what can I say that’s the same group since 2008 (his first victory in Atlanta), they’re amazing. I love those guys.”
Kyle Busch beat Joey Logano out of the pits to take the lead after the caution on lap 289, brought out as Jimmie Johnson spun in the #48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet. Logano, led a race high 78 laps, had trouble on pit road all night, fell to third behind Busch and Ryan Newman.
With two more cautions in quick succession, Busch was able to hold off Newman, his older brother Kurt Busch, and Martin Truex Jr., during the final restarts. Logano was able to pass first Kurt Busch then Truex Jr., as he set his sights on the bumper of the #18 for the closing laps of the race.
Busch’s win ties him with Johnson for the second most victories this season. Matt Kenseth has five wins and would lead the Chase leader board based on bonus points for wins when the points are reset after the race at Richmond International Raceway.
Logano seemed as he was headed towards his second win until the final pit stop, Logano settled for finishing 2nd, and had to be happy with his improved position in the standings. Logano could be the only Penske driver in the Chase after teammate Brad Keselowski won the championship for team owner Roger Penske in 2012.
“The big picture is great but I feel like I had the racing winning Ford,” Logano said. “It’s just frustrating, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a big points day for us to get this thing into the Chase.”
Johnson, whose luck has seemed to run short as of late, had problems again tonight, when on lap 31 Kasey Kahne hit his teammate Johnson from behind, as Kahne’s car was rear-ended by Jeff Burton. Burton and Johnson were able to continue, not without other problems but Kahne had to go to the garage for repairs for 31 laps, knocking him out of the top 10 in points.
For the first time since April Johnson fell momentarily out of the number one position as Clint Bowyer was in position to take over the points lead going into Richmond. On lap 162, the experimental engine for Toyota, that Bowyer was running failed.
“It certainly sucks,” said Bowyer. “It was ours to lose, and unfortunately, we lose.”
Logano finished 2nd, Truex Jr. finished in 3rd, Kurt Busch finished in 4th, with Ryan Newman finishing in the 5th position at Atlanta, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers rounds out the top 10 finishers.
Next Saturday, September 7, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will head to Richmond International where The Chase will be determined; only 6 drivers have as of tonight’s race have clinched a coveted spot in The Chase. Richmond will be televised on ABC with a start time of 7:30 pm eastern time.