Kentucky Speedway promotes itself on social media with #ThisIsSPARTA. And Saturday night Kurt and Kyle Busch treated the 1.5-mile track like their personal arena for battle.
Here are three things to know about the Quaker State 400:
1. Just like the race – won by Kurt over Kyle by 0.076 seconds after a door-banging, paint-trading, two-lap shootout – their sibling rivalry also went overtime.
»RELATED: Kurt tops Kyle at Kentucky Speedway
When asked what the brothers said to each other after the race, Kurt answered they’ll have that conversation Sunday.
“I haven’t seen him yet, but I was supposed to fly home (to North Carolina) with him, and now I’m looking for a plane ride,” Kurt said. “So that’s Kyle. He won’t even wait. We shared a plane ride earlier this year. I think it was Phoenix where he won, and I had to sit there and wait for him to do his little Victory Lane thing. It’ll be fine. We’re going over to his house actually for a little get-together on a Sunday off, and I’m going to plop the trophy down right on his kitchen counter.”
Kurt won his first race this season, and first for Chip Ganassi Racing after leaving Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason. The win also clinched a NASCAR Cup playoff spot for Kurt. He won the trophy Saturday night, but he still has miles to go before matching little brother’s trophy case.
Kyle has 55 NASCAR Cup Series wins, four of those coming this season. And that doesn’t even include his 95 Xfinity Series and 56 Gander Outdoors Truck Series victories.
The two banged doors battling for the win – once to start the white-flag lap and then coming out of turn four — but stopped short of wrecking each other.
“What a battle with my little brother. To race him side-by-side, try to play the chess game at 180 mph in the side draft,” Kurt said. “As we drove down into Turn 3 on the last lap, I just stared straight at the No. 18 on his door and I never lifted until I heard him lift and then I was like ‘wait a minute, I still gotta miss the wall’ and he gave me just enough room as a true racer would.”
2. Chevrolet celebrated its first victory at Kentucky Speedway in nine races. Stewart-Haas Racing was hoping to find victory lane, too. The team’s stable of Fords has put Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola on the front row to start the race.
The team combined to lead 92 of the 269 laps. And at one point the team was running 1-2-3 in the first stage.
Despite that Stewart-Haas set a team record for most consecutive races to start a season without a victory, now at 19.
“Our SHR cars are extremely fast, we show that in qualifying, but they aren’t the best in race trim and traffic yet,” said Clint Bowyer, who finished a team-high sixth. “We have work to do there and we know that.”
Suarez finished eighth, Almirola 14th and Kevin Harvick 22nd.
Joe Gibbs Racing, meanwhile, placed three of its four cars in the top five led by Kyle Busch. Jones finished third and Denny Hamlin was fifth.
As for Joey Logano, he was the tough-luck loser. His nine-second lead over the field evaporated with that late caution. He finished seventh.
“Yeah, it was a great race,” Logano said. “It was a lot of fun. You had strategy and cautions and it was probably the best Kentucky race we have ever had. If I was a race fan, I would say that was a cool finish. I am a little too close to the fire to say it was a cool finish right now.”
3. Cup drivers produced some of the best racing at Kentucky Speedway with three- and four-wide racing in the turns – including the treacherous turn three. The restarts also led to some quality racing, including a three-car battle between Bowyer and the Busch brothers late in the race.
A new aero package debuted at Kentucky this year. A traction compound was put down on the track for this weekend, too, that allowed for cars to move around and limited single-file racing.
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