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Bristol NASCAR: Kurt Busch ends win drought in dramatic race

Kurt Busch wins Bristol NASCAR 2018

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch secured his first win since the 2017 season-opener by snatching victory in during a dramatic NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol.

Having finished seventh and ninth in the first two stages, Busch first took the lead with 24 laps of the 500-tour race remaining by beating team-mate Clint Bowyer - who shared the front row - away at a late restart.

A puncture and spin for Kyle Busch with 16 laps remaining meant that his brother Kurt then had to survive another restart.

Despite restarting in second, Bowyer slipped backwards and Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson emerged as Busch's closest challenger.

Having pitted on lap 474, Larson's tyres were 32 laps younger than Busch's.

But the SHR driver was able to hang on to end a win drought stretching back to the 2017 Daytona 500, 58 Cup rounds ago, and book his place in the playoffs.

Autosport recently revealed that Busch is set to leave SHR to replace Jamie McMurray at Ganassi at the end of the year.

Despite leading the race early in stage one, polesitter Larson dropped down the order as the race progressed before recovering late on to finish second.

After he took the lead of the race from Chase Elliott mid-way through the final stage, Bowyer's main threats for victory with 100 laps remaining were Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch.

Bristol NASCAR crash 2018

Both had been involved in a 12-car pile-up on lap two of the race. Busch tagged Penske's Ryan Blaney, spinning in front of the field and collecting several cars, including Truex.

Truex and Busch battled back to second and third respectively with 70 laps remaining - Busch's recovery in spite of having dropped to two laps down due to the extensive repairs that were required.

But as Busch challenged Truex, he tagged the rear of the #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota and pitched the champion into the inside wall. Truex was eliminated from contention.

Busch's night was hindered by the damage sustained in the lap two incident, as the rear bodywork damage complicated refuelling.

He dropped from second to 11th on lap 474, making contact with Chris Buescher that led to his eventual puncture.

Elliott, who lost track position as stage three progressed, surged through the field in the final 14 laps after Busch's spin, climbing from ninth to finish third.

Both Elliott and stage two winner Joey Logano passed Joe Gibbs Racing's Erik Jones in the closing laps. Logano ended up fourth and Jones was fifth.

Losing out at the final restart, Bowyer finished in sixth despite having led 120 of the final stage's 250 laps.

Ryan Blaney was seventh. He won the opening stage, narrowly beating Kevin Harvick in a photo finish.

Harvick's challenge was curtailed early in stage two when he suspected a puncture on his SHR Ford.

He pitted during green flag conditions and ended up two laps down in the process, then could only recover to 10th.

Race result

PosDriverTeamCarLapsGap
1Kurt BuschStewart-Haas RacingFord5002h58m35.s
2Kyle LarsonChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet5000.367s
3Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet5000.474s
4Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord5001.343s
5Erik JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota5001.886s
6Clint BowyerStewart-Haas RacingFord5002.582s
7Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord5002.979s
8Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet5003.282s
9Jimmie JohnsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet5003.809s
10Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord5004.192s
11Trevor BayneRoush Fenway RacingFord5004.720s
12Ryan NewmanRichard Childress RacingChevrolet5005.033s
13Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet5005.194s
14Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota5005.421s
15Kasey KahneLeavine Family RacingChevrolet5008.464s
16Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord4991 Lap
17David RaganFront Row MotorsportsFord4991 Lap
18Daniel SuarezJoe Gibbs RacingToyota4991 Lap
19Chris BuescherJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet4991 Lap
20Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota4973 Laps
21Ty DillonGermain RacingChevrolet4964 Laps
22Matt DiBenedettoGo FAS RacingFord4964 Laps
23William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet4964 Laps
24Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Roush Fenway RacingFord4955 Laps
25Landon CassillStarCom RacingChevrolet4937 Laps
26Ross ChastainPremium MotorsportsChevrolet4928 Laps
27Blake JonesBK RacingToyota48515 Laps
28Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyota48119 Laps
29Jamie McMurrayChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet43565 Laps
30Martin Truex Jr.Furniture Row RacingToyota431Accident
31Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord42872 Laps
32J.J. YeleyPremium MotorsportsChevrolet423Accident
33Reed SorensonRick Ware RacingChevrolet338Accident
34Corey LaJoieTriStar MotorsportsChevrolet234Electrical
35Jesse LittleGaunt Brothers RacingToyota59Accident
36Paul MenardWood Brothers RacingFord28Accident
37Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord10Accident
38Darrell Wallace Jr.Richard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet3Accident
39A.J. AllmendingerJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet1Accident
40Gray GauldingStarCom RacingChevrolet1Accident

Drivers' standings

PosDriverPoints
1Kyle Busch1003
2Kevin Harvick960
3Martin Truex Jr.849
4Kurt Busch796
5Clint Bowyer776
6Joey Logano768
7Ryan Blaney733
8Brad Keselowski730
9Kyle Larson729
10Denny Hamlin707
11Chase Elliott697
12Aric Almirola658
13Erik Jones635
14Jimmie Johnson604
15Alex Bowman572
16Ricky Stenhouse Jr.493
17Ryan Newman481
18Daniel Suarez479
19Austin Dillon475
20Paul Menard473
21William Byron442
22Jamie McMurray434
23Chris Buescher380
24A.J. Allmendinger376
25David Ragan349
26Darrell Wallace Jr.346
27Kasey Kahne345
28Michael McDowell344
29Ty Dillon310
30Matt DiBenedetto266
31Trevor Bayne214
32Landon Cassill123
33Gray Gaulding118
34Matt Kenseth117
35Cole Whitt90
36D.J. Kennington82
37Corey LaJoie79
38Jeffrey Earnhardt70
39Reed Sorenson45
40Harrison Rhodes23
41Blake Jones21
42Kyle Weatherman16
43Mark Thompson15
44Chris Cook6
45Tomy Drissi5
46Derrike Cope4
47Danica Patrick2
48Cody Ware1


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