The battle of Kyles commenced during the Buschy McBush Race 400 at Kansas. Kyle Larson (5) and Kyle Busch (18) showed off their 1.5-mile track talent this weekend leading a combined 152 laps with the majority of those going to Larson. Brad Keselowski also led a good amount after starting on pole. Here is the Kansas recap.
Stage one got kicked off with some close side to side three-wide racing. Brad Keselowski (2) capitalized on his starting position and quickly pulled away with the lead. At this point, the only one who looked quick enough to catch him was William Byron (24). During the competition caution at lap 26, Ryan Newmans (6) crew caused some damage to the side of his car and was later black flagged for an unapproved body modification. After the restart, it took Larson only a few laps to catch Keselowski and take the lead. It looked like it was his stage to win until Kyle Busch took the reigns and captured the stage win on the last lap.
Kyle Larson wins his fourth stage of the year as he captures the second stage at Kansas. All four have come on 1.5-mile tracks. pic.twitter.com/Xg7qNDoALa— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 2, 2021
With each pit stop, Larson’s car was getting faster. He started the race in 32nd and got all the way to the front only to finish second in the first stage. The second stage though was a different story. He led the most laps, only losing the lead during green-flag pit stops, but his car was extremely loose (which is normal for Larson) but you could tell he wasn’t as consistent on lap times as Kyle Busch.
Final Stage and the Tire Fiasco
Fast Thoughts: Did NASCAR make the right call in waiting to throw the caution for the tire in the infield grass at Kansas? pic.twitter.com/D863mjZcnE— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 3, 2021
Early in the final stage, it looked as though the win would be decided between Larson and Busch. But during the green flag pit stops Chris Buescher (17) was the only one not to go in for tires. Normally in that situation, the driver is looking for caution and for the 17, luck was on his side, or so we thought. While Buescher stayed out, the number 8 of Tyler Reddick had an uncontrolled tire go into the infield. Which normally would bring out a caution due to safety concerns but NASCAR decided to wait it out until Buescher came in for his stop.
This game of chicken continued for about 15 laps until Buescher absolutely had to come in. Then afterward NASCAR threw out the caution. This has led to quite a bit of controversy as NASCAR’s inconsistent call making has changed the tides of several races over not just this season, but the past few years. I get that they try to work on a situational basis but there have been several times where the same situation happens but they aren’t consistent in their call making.
Busch Wins the Buschy McBusch Race
On the restart, Denny Hamlin (11) who was rather uncharacteristically quiet this race, took the lead. He and Larson battled for several laps until Hamlin seemed to have got tight in the middle of turns three and four and got into the wall. A lap later he got into the wall again after a right-side tire blew which brought out another caution. Once they got going again, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (47) spun on the backstretch and collected Austin Cindric (33) before bringing out the caution.
After yet another restart, Larson and Busch were continuing to fight for the lead. Only to be stopped by a wreck from Christopher Bell (20) who spun in turn three and hit Stenhouse and then Ryan Preece (37). Stenhouse’s car was done for the day and stopped in the tri-oval on fire. Instead of throwing the red flag to clean up the track, NASCAR had the remaining cars do eight pace laps which meant we were going to overtime.
A wild final restart became chaos for Larson after having to push Ryan Blaney (12) into turn one. Blaney, who like the rest of the drivers in the top five, didn’t pit and his worn tires came out from under him. From the looks of it, it seems like Larson’s front bumper got stuck on the rear bumper of the number 12. Somehow, Blaney didn’t spin but Larson did end up hitting the wall, ending his chances at winning. With all of this happening behind him, birthday boy Kyle Busch ran away with the win! With this win, Busch joins Cale Yarborough as the second driver in NASCAR history to win more than once on his birthday.
Opinions From Kansas
All in all, I think the race was great. The track brings a ton of good three-wide racing, especially during the restarts. The uncontrolled tire was an issue that I think NASCAR could’ve handled better. I mean the whole reason Chris Buescher was staying out was that he was hoping for a caution so why not just throw the flag if the tire is in an unsafe place? Also, when has NASCAR ever hesitated on throwing a caution so everyone can get through their green flag stops?
It just seems like the whole situation could’ve been handled better. Not to mention they didn’t throw the red flag so we would have another overtime finish. Other than that I felt the racing was actually pretty good for a 1.5-mile. Most tracks of the same length have been kind of lackluster. But not the Buschy McBusch Race at Kansas!