Kyle Busch Gearing Up for Championship Run with Atlanta Victory

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

The 500 miles Sunday Night during the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway surely played out in its entirety. Throughout the night, lead changes were abundant while pit stops played a large role in who was contending for the top spot. Kyle Busch didn’t show his car up front until the late portions of the race, but that was all he needed to get the job done. His fourth win of the season has set his sights on the championship and he’s doing everything possible right now to achieve that.

Joey Logano had one of the best cars of the race. He led on numerous occasions and may have been contending for the win if the race had ten extra laps. A great run for the No.22 team has their Chase run just about complete. For other guys though, Atlanta played a different fiddle.

Problems for the wild card contenders started early. First, a stack up on the restart killed Kasey Kahne’s day. When Jeff Gordon didn’t get going on the outside lane, the whole line behind him stacked up. As cars slowed to avoid it, some weren’t fortunate enough to avoid carnage. Kahne ran into the back of his teammate, Jimmie Johnson, which poked a hole in his oil cooler along with the radiator. Nothing is good about that, but the good news is his Chase berth is already locked up due to his two wins on the season.

Atlanta has been kind to Jeff Gordon in the past and it was again Sunday Night. He was up front and battling for the lead on numerous occasions. At different points throughout the race, it looked to be his night. As much as he needed it to be, it didn’t work out for the four-time champion in the end. He came home in sixth.

Other notable names that had a turn at the lead throughout the night include Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, and Brad Keselowski. All three led at one point, but issues plagued each from the victory.

A bad pit cycle trapped Edwards late in the race when a caution came out after he pitted and that put an end to his time at the front. A fast car for Edwards may have ended up in victory lane if good luck had gone his way.

Bowyer looked to have the car to beat around the halfway point of the night, but an experimental engine the team was using let go while the No.15 was cruising at the front. A win would have gone along way for that team and it looked as if it was going to be their night. The engine quit, but Bowyer’s spirits weren’t dampened. “I’m going to have a beer” Bowyer laughingly said in his ESPN interview to signify he wasn’t upset over his misfortunes.

The champ’s issues may have taken his name out of the Chase picture. Keselowski blew an engine and fell very deep in the points. Richmond will be it for the defending champ to gain his shot at a repeat.

The last 40 laps of the event turned out to be quite the game changer. First, a Jimmie Johnson spin led the lead lap cars down pit road. Kyle Busch came out as the leader for the first time of the night. He held his ground on the restart, but his hard charging brother came out of nowhere to land in the second position. A caution flew just laps later for a Brian Vickers spin to set up a brotherly restart battle.

It proved not to be such a battle because Kyle Busch just sailed away. Just as he started to pull away however, a wreck unfolded leaving the final restart to decide things. Busch defeated the restart with ease and this time, he flew away with no one to compete with. That late race push led him to victory circle for the fourth time of the season. Busch’s radio comments following the race summed up his accomplishment for the day, “Atlanta has been defeated once again.”

Chase implications soared through the roof Sunday Night. Busch’s victory tied him with Jimmie Johnson for second most on the season with four apiece. Matt Kenseth still holds the most on the season with five. One more for either will make them the top seed heading to the Chase, but with so many drivers needing that win at Richmond, it may be tough to accomplish.

Richmond is going to be a wild place to be next Saturday Night. With ten drivers vying for two spots, it is sure to get hectic. Points will essentially be thrown out the window as some drivers go after the win, but the points will be the most important thing at the end of the night.

Kyle Busch secured his shot at the championship at Atlanta while some drivers survived to have one more next weekend. Busch is all set, but who will be joining him and the other top ten drivers in the playoffs will all be decided next weekend at Richmond.

By Jason Schultz

Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER MANUFACTURER

LAPS

MONEY

START

LED

PTS

BONUS

PENALTY

1 Kyle Busch Toyota

325

 

9

36

47

4

0

2 Joey Logano Ford

325

 

11

78

44

2

0

3 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota

325

 

7

0

41

0

0

4 Kurt Busch Chevrolet

325

 

32

0

40

0

0

5 Ryan Newman Chevrolet

325

 

17

3

40

1

0

6 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet

325

 

5

17

39

1

0

7 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet

325

 

3

38

38

1

0

8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet

325

 

8

0

36

0

0

9 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet

325

 

30

0

35

0

0

10 Brian Vickers Toyota

325

 

22

0

0

0

0

11 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet

325

 

15

0

33

0

0

12 Matt Kenseth Toyota

325

 

6

0

32

0

0

13 Marcos Ambrose Ford

325

 

20

0

31

0

0

14 AJ Allmendinger Toyota

325

 

13

0

30

0

0

15 Greg Biffle Ford

325

 

24

0

29

0

0

16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford

325

 

1

0

28

0

0

17 David Gilliland Ford

325

 

31

0

27

0

0

18 Carl Edwards Ford

324

 

2

68

27

1

0

19 Austin Dillon Chevrolet

324

 

26

0

0

0

0

20 Aric Almirola Ford

323

 

29

0

24

0

0

21 Danica Patrick Chevrolet

323

 

21

0

23

0

0

22 Casey Mears Ford

323

 

19

1

23

1

0

23 David Ragan Ford

323

 

14

1

22

1

0

24 Paul Menard Chevrolet

322

 

16

0

20

0

0

25 Mark Martin Chevrolet

322

 

27

0

19

0

0

26 Dave Blaney Chevrolet

322

 

36

0

18

0

0

27 Travis Kvapil Toyota

322

 

37

0

17

0

0

28 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet

321

 

10

0

16

0

0

29 David Stremme Toyota

321

 

25

0

15

0

0

30 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet

321

 

42

2

15

1

0

31 Timmy Hill Ford

321

 

41

0

13

0

0

32 David Reutimann Toyota

320

 

34

0

12

0

0

33 Mike Bliss Chevrolet

319

 

38

0

0

0

0

34 Jeff Burton Chevrolet

319

 

28

0

10

0

0

35 Brad Keselowski Ford

307

 

23

31

10

1

0

36 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet

292

 

18

0

8

0

0

37 Landon Cassill Chevrolet

249

 

39

1

0

0

0

38 Denny Hamlin Toyota

231

 

4

0

6

0

0

39 Clint Bowyer Toyota

192

 

12

48

6

1

0

40 Joe Nemechek Toyota

114

 

40

0

0

0

0

41 Josh Wise Ford

94

 

33

0

0

0

0

42 Michael McDowell Ford

92

 

43

1

3

1

0

43 Scott Speed Ford

22

 

35

0

1

0

0

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