Auto racing roundup: Kyle Busch endures on long day for Cup Series

AP photo by Jeff Roberson / Kyle Busch celebrates after winning Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill.

MADISON, Ill. — Kyle Busch had been in and out of his car through a lengthy weather delay. He had idled on the track through two red flags. He had kept his poise through 11 cautions, including five down the stretch as he tried to protect his lead.

Must have seemed like Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Race at World Wide Technology Raceway would never end.

It finally did in the twilight, though, some six hours after the green flag initially dropped. Busch got a big push from Denny Hamlin on the last restart, then held off his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in a green-white-checkered finish for his third victory of the year.

"That was pretty awesome, man, to sit on the pole, lead a lot of laps and have my guys do such a great job today. It was pretty phenomenal for us," said Busch, a two-time Cup Series champion who is in his debut season for Richard Childress Racing. "We're going to have a great time with this one. This one is pretty cool."

Bubba Wallace brought out the 11th and final yellow flag when he was fighting for a top-10 finish and his brake rotor let go with five laps remaining, the last in a series of broken rotors that ended the race for at least three other drivers.

Busch, who had held off fellow Chevrolet driver Kyle Larson on each previous restart, had one last phenomenal jump in him. He was well ahead of the rest of the field by the back stretch with just more than a lap left and was never seriously challenged by Hamlin after he took the white flag, giving RCR another victory after triumphs at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway and California's Auto Club Speedway in the first half of the regular season.

"Any time we give him a car capable of winning, he's going to win it," car owner Richard Childress said. "Those last three or four or however many restarts, I thought that was pretty tough, but I knew he would do his job."

The win was especially gratifying for Busch's crew chief, Randall Burnett, who not only produced a car fast enough to win the pole position Saturday but also made all the right calls Sunday. Burnett hails from nearby Fenton, Missouri, and had plenty of friends and family in a sellout crowd of about 60,000 on a brutally hot late spring day.

"It means a lot to me coming home," Burnett said.

Hamlin finished second in a JGR Toyota, while reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano, the winner a year ago when NASCAR's top circuit visited the track for the first time, got around Larson on the final lap for third in his Team Penske Ford. JGR's Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five ahead of Penske's Ryan Blaney, who started on the front row alongside Busch six days after winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That race is NASCAR's longest on the schedule, so its nearly five-hour run on Memorial Day — it was pushed back a day due to inclement weather wasn't a surprise. Sunday was different.

"Long day for sure," Logano said. "There were four or five cars that were just better than us. We made some good adjustments at the end, and we were in the hunt."

The race went to caution on the second lap when Tyler Reddick spun on the back stretch. Moments later, the race was halted due to popup lightning in the area. While the delay lasted about two hours, rain never fell on the track.

It was an especially long day for Corey LaJoie, who filled in for Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick Chevy and spent most of the day near the back before finishing 21st. Elliott was suspended for the race for intentionally wrecking Hamlin at Charlotte.

It also was a long day for everyone on pit stands. There were some technical problems that not only prevented them from having communication with teams back at their shops, but also limited the amount of data they were able to see.

"It was interesting for sure," Truex said. "It was just an uphill climb."

Carson Hocevar made his Cup Series debut in place of LaJoie in the No. 7 for Spire Motorsports. But the car still carried LaJoie's name, so the 20-year-old Hocevar walked through the fan area several hours before the green flag handing out drinks to make sure everyone knew he was in it. Hocevar was on the move Sunday when his brake rotor broke during the second stage of the race.

"I was running 16th, and it was so surreal. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot," Hocevar said. "Hopefully that call for a Cup ride isn't the only one I get in my life."

The egg-shaped oval at the St. Louis-area track is particularly hard on brakes. Reddick was running seventh when his rotor exploded, putting him into the wall and out of the race. The same fate as Hocevar and Reddick hit Noah Gragson, who spun from the bottom of the track up into the wall and made hard contact with 42 laps to go.

Next Sunday's race is on the road course in Sonoma, California.

  photo  AP photo by Paul Sancya / Alex Palou makes a turn during IndyCar's Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday.

IndyCar: Palou cruises to Detroit GP victory

DETROIT — Alex Palou went from critic to champion in a day.

He started and finished first in the Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday, roughly 24 hours after the IndyCar points leader said the street course was too tight and too short for the American open-wheel series.

"It was a lot better than I expected," said Palou, who won for the second time in less than a month and the sixth time in his IndyCar career.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who won the Indianapolis GP in May, led 74 of 100 laps on Detroit's new street circuit and went ahead for the last time on lap 77. He stayed in front after Team Penske's Will Power made a move that didn't pan out as he made contact with Scott Dixon, one of Palou's Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, on the 91st lap.

"I couldn't get him," Dixon said. "I tried everything. My one chance was when Dixon got into me."

After a seventh yellow flag, Palou pulled away in his Honda with five laps left and beat Power's Chevrolet by 1.1843 seconds. Arrow McLaren's Felix Rosenqvist finished third, followed by Dixon and Arrow McLaren's Alexander Rossi.

Josef Newgarden, the winner a week earlier in the Indianapolis 500, finished 10th in the 27-car field.

The race got off to a rough start. It was waved off because there wasn't enough space between cars, and when it resumed on the second lap going into the third turn, Callum Ilott damaged Kyle Kirkwood's wing by running into him in the middle of the pack.

Palou said his plan was to stay in front with clean air ahead of the chaos as much as possible. It worked out well. He led the race from the start until pitting on the 29th lap and allowing Power to pull into the lead.

When Power pulled into the split pit five laps later, Pato O'Ward had a lead that didn't last long. Just after leaving a pit stop, his Honda stalled due to a mechanical problem and his CGR crew had to push him back to address it. Trying to make up ground, O'Ward made an aggressive move to get inside Santino Ferrucci and ran into a barrier wall, ending his day 41 laps into the 100-lap race.

Palou, meanwhile, was fast and steady enough to lead the race for most of the afternoon.

The Detroit GP returned downtown for the first time since 1991, when it was held on a 2.5-mile course in the same area, after running up the river at Belle Isle.

"Detroit did a tremendous job," Palou said. "The fans were amazing."

IndyCar has next weekend off before resuming June 18 at Road America in Plymouth, Wisconsin.

  photo  AP photo by Juan Monfort / Max Verstappen leads during Formula One's Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday near Barcelona.

F1: Verstappen reigns in Spain

MONTMELO, Spain — Max Verstappen had warned that his Red Bull team was good enough to win every single race of the 2023 Formula One season. The two-time reigning series champion took one more step toward that ambitious sweep by easing to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen started from pole position and never was challenged as he breezed to his fifth win of the year. His Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, was the winner of the other two races so far.

On Sunday, Verstappen beat Carlos Sainz's Ferrari to the first corner and then eased his superior car around the 2.8-mile Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for 66 laps to finish well ahead of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

"It is a big pleasure to drive a car like this, and it showed on a day like this," Verstappen said. "Hopefully we can keep it up throughout the year."

His 40th career win, including his third in Barcelona, leaves Verstappen one win behind the late, legendary Ayrton Senna's total of 41. He also seems well on course to matching Senna's three world titles. Verstappen set a Red Bull record with his 39th win a week earlier in the Monaco GP, topping Sebastian Vettel's team mark of 38.

Pérez finished fourth Sunday after fighting his way up from 11th at the start. Verstappen's lead over Pérez in the F1 championship standings grew to 53 points after the winner also grabbed an extra point for the fastest lap.

The next race is the Canadian GP on June 18 in Montreal.