HAMPTON, Ga. — Despite his numerous NASCAR records, one thing has eluded Kyle Busch – a Sprint Cup Series championship.
After his victory in Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team appear more prepared than ever to battle for the ultimate prize.
Busch’s win is his fourth of the season, moving him into a tie with Jimmie Johnson with the second-most wins on the year. The 12-driver Chase for the Cup will begin in two weeks and the field is seeded by wins. Matt Kenseth has the most with five.
Joey Logano finished second, Martin Truex Jr. was third, Kurt Busch fourth and Ryan Newman was fifth.
Juan Pablo Montoya got around pole-winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to take the lead on the race’s start and led the first 24 laps.
NASCAR called a competition caution on Lap 27, but after pit stops Montoya remained out front on the restart on Lap31.
One lap later, Jeff Gordon spun his wheels and backed up several cars behind him, which triggered a multicar accident that collected Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Johnson and Jeff Burton. Kahne suffered extensive damage and was forced to the garage for repairs.
On the restart on Lap 40, Montoya continued to lead. However, Carl Edwards quickly made his way around him to move out front.
Debris on the track brought out the third caution of the race on Lap 59. After a round of pit stops, Gordon took over the lead on the restart on Lap 64.
Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard slammed into each other on Lap 76, which brought out a caution for debris. On the restart on Lap 82, Edwards took over the lead, followed by Gordon and Brad Keselowski.
Shortly after the restart, Logano began complaining of a possible loose wheel and eventually pit to correct the problem under green, which left him on a different pit schedule than the rest of the race leaders.
Teams began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 121. Once the cycle was complete, Logano moved into the lead on Lap 126, but remained off sequence from the others. Logano eventually had to pit on Lap 151 as Clint Bowyer moved into the lead.
Another round of green-flag stops began on Lap 163 and again Logano moved into the lead after the cycle was completed on Lap 186.
Keselowski remained out front and in command but suddenly developed an apparent engine issue and fell off the pace on Lap 243. That allowed Logano to move back into the lead.
A third round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 252. Once the cycle was completed on Lap 256, Logano moved back into the lead.
With 50 laps remaining, Logano had a more than three-second lead over Newman. Kyle Busch was third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth.
Johnson spun on Lap 288 to bring out the seventh caution of the race. All of the lead-lap cars pit for fuel and tires and Kyle Busch moved into the lead on the restart on Lap 295, followed by Newman, Logano, Earnhardt and Harvick.
Shortly after the restart, Brian Vickers spun to bring out the eighth caution of the race. Only a handful of cars elected to pit under caution. On the restart on Lap 298, Kyle Busch led the way, followed by Kurt Busch and Logano.
Just after the restart, Burton and Austin Dillon got together on Lap 298, which brought out the ninth caution of the race. Only four teams elected to pit. Kyle Busch continued to lead on the restart on Lap 305, followed by Kurt Busch and Truex.
With 10 laps remaining, Kyle Busch continued to hold a significant lead.