Kyle Busch Punches Ticket To Homestead-Miami After Surviving Chaotic Finish At Martinsvilleby Hunter Thomas October 29, 2017
RIDGEWAY, Va. – Kyle Busch held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway after a chaotic last-lap in NASCAR Overtime on Sunday.
The extra laps on Sunday came to fruition when Denny Hamlin made contact with Chase Elliott while battling for the lead in Turn 3. Elliott spun and slammed the wall in Turn 3 to bring out the 11th and final caution of the day on lap 499. On the restart, Denny Hamlin cleared his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch for the race lead; however, as the two drivers exited Turn 4, Busch got underneath Hamlin to challenge for the lead on the last lap.
“We just didn’t get very good of a restart,” Busch said. “I wanted to be on Denny’s outside and try to pinch him a little bit, but I didn’t get a very good restart. Came up turn two, had clean race track, got down behind him and went off into turn three and he pushed up, washed up the race track and I was able to come underneath him and get to the bottom there and then, and root him out of the way a little bit. You know it’s time to go and I was getting kind of beat on from behind or it was gonna come. I knew it was gonna come anyways and put a drag race down the front straightaway into turn one and I chattered the rear tires on the brakes getting in there and I slid up into him.”
Busch completed the pass on Hamlin, but the Las Vegas native still had to race Martin Truex Jr, who had gotten underneath him. As Busch and Truex Jr. exited Turn 4 for the final time, the field crashed behind them. Busch just barely held off Martin Truex Jr. to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win marked Busch’s fifth victory of the season.
“I had Truex on me there down the backstretch through (turns) three and four,” Busch said. “Just knew that I had to get that momentum off of four and came back to the start/finish line.”
Truex Jr. finished second, his 23rd top-10 finish of the season. Despite being dominate all season long, Truex Jr. didn’t lead any laps on Sunday. Following the race, Truex Jr. said that he didn’t want to crash Busch for the victory even though it would have solidified him a spot in the Championship 4. Truex Jr. believes that he and his team can make it to Homestead-Miami Speedway through performing well at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
“I thought the hole opened up, I drove inside of Kyle, and I wasn’t going to go run into him; that’s just not the way I do it,” Truex Jr. said. “I think we can get to Homestead without, like I said earlier, making too many enemies. We’ll let everybody else fight and we’ll try to do our own thing.”
Clint Bowyer held on for a third-place finish, while Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Following the race, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott had a confrontation on the backstretch. The two drivers climbed out of their cars and exchanged words.
Once onto pit road, Chase Elliott said, “ I don’t know what his problem was. It was unnecessary I hadn’t raced him dirty all-day long. There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3. I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself. I don’t know what the deal was, but it is so disappointing. We had the best car I’ve ever had here at Martinsville. And had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him we don’t.”
Denny Hamlin said, “I got into the back of him (Chase Elliott) and he spun out. Trying to get a race win, everyone wrecked everybody there at the end. It was complete bullsh– chaos. I got in the back of him and he spun out. Somebody got into the back of me and I wrecked too. It was just a mess at the end. I mean, you know everybody is doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team, I understand they had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead. Not sure you know – I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose and I tried to move him out of the way and spun out.”
Martin Truex Jr. leads the Playoff standings by 17 points over Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski is 38 points back, followed by Kevin Harvick (-64), Jimmie Johnson (-67), Ryan Blaney (-70), Denny Hamlin (-72) and Chase Elliott (-90).
The second race of the Round of 8 will take place at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, November 5. Live coverage of the AAA Texas 500 will broadcast at 2 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com