Kurt Busch scores hometown win in Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch scores hometown win in Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas

NASCAR

Kurt Busch scores hometown win in Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas

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The dice finally fell Kurt Busch’s way at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch scored his first win of the season and the first at his home track Sunday night by driving away on an overtime restart in the South Point 400. It was possible because Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 team was in the right spot – leading – when a caution fell on lap 237 in the middle of green-flag pit stops trapped each of his fellow playoff contenders a lap down.

Able to make his final pit stop under caution, Busch lined up second to Matt DiBenedetto and quickly snatched the top spot away. He never relinquished it, even with two additional cautions bunching the field back up.

“This is what kids dream of when they grow up racing,” said Busch, who had been 0-for-21 at Las Vegas. “You dream of winning at your hometown track, and for two decades it’s kicked my butt. Tonight, with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe.

“I knew the race would come to us. We needed to get to nightfall and one of those quirky Matt McCall (crew chief) pit sequences finally unfolded. We got lucky. You’ve got to be lucky. You have to be lucky in any race, but we did it tonight with teamwork and pulling through and just not giving up.”

DiBenedetto hung on for a second-place finish. He also finished second in the spring Las Vegas race. Denny Hamlin, who won the first stage and led a race-high 121 laps, charged to finish third.

Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth, and Alex Bowman was fifth. Hamlin and Truex were among those who had to take the wave around on the lap 237 caution while Bowman was the free pass recipient.

Kyle Busch finished sixth, Ryan Blaney finished seventh, and Erik Jones finished eighth. Chris Buescher finished ninth, and Kevin Harvick finished 10th.

The other playoff drivers in the finishing order were Clint Bowyer 12th, Brad Keselowski 13th, Joey Logano 14th, Chase Elliott 22nd, and Austin Dillon 32nd.

Logano spent much of the night trapped a lap down and did not receive the free pass until the second to last caution. Logano fell outside the top 20 after he had to pit under green on lap 90 because of a tire rub. He and Kyle Busch collided in Turn 3 off a restart when Hamlin made it three-wide for the race lead.

Elliott won the second stage and led 73 laps. He lined up 10th on the overtime restart, but faded in traffic.

Dillon lost multiple laps when he lost a power steering belt with just under 55 laps to go.

Las Vegas was the first race in the second round of the playoffs. Busch jumped from last on the playoff grid to automatically advancing into the Round of 8. Below the cutline going into Talladega Speedway are Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Almirola, and Dillon.

“That’s part of the system,” Busch said. “It’s an incredible feeling to not have – well, it’s sinking in – no Talladega worries, no Roval worries. But we’re still going there to get points. We’re still going there to add up what we need to do to win this championship.”

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