Kurt Busch made sure to enjoy the thrill of winning at his home track Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Following the expected burst of joy on the radio and burnout on the frontstretch (and through the grass), the accomplishment’s emotion was evident on Busch’s face as he climbed out of the car. There was the triumph pose on the hood of his Chevrolet, and with the checkered flag, Busch spelled out ‘Las Vegas’ on the start/finish line.
And that was all before the official victory lane celebration and interviews. The emotion and satisfaction of the win were clearly evident on Busch’ face then, too.
“This is 20 years of agony and defeat, and now, today, triumph,” said Busch. “I don’t know if I have any more gas left or if I just filled my tank up to go win every race that I’m going to go race next.”
The 1.5-mile facility has been anything but kind to the hometown hero in the NASCAR Cup Series. It took 22 tries to finally win at the track, giving him just three top-five finishes in Vegas.
But Sunday’s South Point 400 finally fell Busch’s way. Crew chief Matt McCall again extended Busch’s fuel run as he’s done a few times this season, and, by keeping Busch on track longer than most of the field, a late-race caution was perfectly timed to allow them to keep the track position. Busch led the final 26 laps, which included three cautions.
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“It’s like giving a lion a piece of meat,” said Busch. “I had it. I was in position, and nobody was going to take it from me. I had to execute on those restarts and then change the draft around. The 11 [Denny Hamlin] was definitely going to have a hard time passing us because he had more to lose than we do.”
With the win, Busch jumped from last on the playoff grid to the Round of 8. While the 32nd win of his Cup Series career will just be a number, its meaning is at the top with some of Busch’s other remarkable feats.
“It’s right there underneath Daytona (2017), underneath the championship back in 2004,” said Busch. “Any time you win, it’s special. But to do it in front of my hometown crowd … this one is easily ramping up to being my third-most-favorite win ever.
“Right now, it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”