SPARTA, Ky. — Kurt Busch finally beat his younger brother in a head-to-head finish in a NASCAR Cup Series race and took his new team to victory lane a week after they coughed away what would have been their first win together.
The downside of the triumph Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway?
Kyle Busch didn't stick around to give his older brother a promised ride home.
"I was supposed to fly home with him, and now I'm looking for a plane ride," Kurt said with a laugh.
"That's Kyle. He won't even wait."
Kurt, 40, certainly wanted to flaunt his trophy after beating his brother in a door-to-door overtime battle. He was the victor — the first time in three 1-2 Cup Series finishes for the Busch brothers that Kyle did not win — and earned a playoff spot with his first win in his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing.
"My little brother gave me just enough room. It was like 'You going to lift (your foot off the gas pedal)? I ain't going to lift. You going to lift? I ain't going to lift.' And we had a duel," Kurt said. "We had a duel going down through (turns) 3 and 4, and I didn't know who was going to come out on top."
Kyle settled for second after a dramatic ending in which the Las Vegas natives banged their cars and both nearly lost control as they hurtled toward the checkered flag.
"I'm glad it was a thriller, just unfortunately we were on the wrong end of the deal," Kyle, 34, said. "It's obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes, and been a part of a lot of them none with my brother like that, so that was a first.
"You know, no hard feelings, and we move on."
The showdown came six days after Kurt lost at Daytona International Speedway because he pitted from the lead moments before weather suspended the race. It was eventually called without the cars returning to the track, giving 20-year-old Justin Haley a victory in just his third start on the top-tier circuit.
That pit call haunted Busch and his crew chief all week, but a late call for four tires on Saturday gave the No. 1 team a shot at redemption.
Reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano, who held the season points lead heading to Kentucky, had the victory in hand until a spin by Bubba Wallace with six laps remaining sent the race into overtime.
Logano and Kyle Busch lined up side by side on the restart for what was expected to be a race for the victory, but both Erik Jones and Kurt Busch shoved their cars into the mix for an intense final two laps. The brothers' cars — Kurt in the No. 1 Chevrolet, Kyle in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota — touched as they raced for the lead, then wiggled and it appeared Kurt was headed into the wall.
But big brother, the 2004 Cup Series champion, recovered to squeeze past little brother, the 2015 champ, immediately before the checkered flag.
"He could have clobbered us against the wall, and third place probably would have got it," Kurt said of the contact with Kyle. "What an awesome run."
Ganassi called into victory lane from Toronto, where he was with his IndyCar team for a Sunday race in the Canadian city. The victory was the third straight of the season for Chevrolet and first in nine races at Kentucky Speedway. It ended a two-race winning streak at the 1.5-mile track for Martin Truex Jr. and Toyota.
JGR's Jones was third, Ganassi's Kyle Larson fourth and JGR's Denny Hamlin fifth.
The finish was fitting considering the first two stages belonged to the Busch brothers. Kurt won the first 80-lap segment, and Kyle won the second.
In the end, Kurt was first at the end of the most important stage and secured family bragging rights with a dogged run on the top side to spark a wild celebration and burnout on the front stretch. His crew, maligned all week for the horrible pit call at Daytona, rushed to greet him and he dove into their arms. The crew then rode on Kurt's Camaro to victory lane, one lone member waving the checkered flag.
Busch led four times for 41 laps after starting fourth.
Clint Bowyer, Logano, pole-position winner Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman led four Ford Mustangs in the second five, with Chris Buescher 10th in a Chevy. Suarez led 52 laps and finished a roller-coaster night — a bad pit call for four tires dropped him to 14th, and he was later penalized for speeding on pit road — on an up note.