ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
AP photo by Colin E. Braley / Kyle Busch celebrates after winning Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway. Busch, a two-time season champion, became the 10th driver to win through 11 races this year.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kyle Busch thought he had a third-place car Sunday at Kansas Speedway. His crew chief, Ben Beshore, though their No. 18 Toyota was good enough for second.

Both of them turned out to be wrong.

Instead, Busch was perfect on a pair of late restarts and won a two-lap sprint to the finish of the Buschy McBusch Race 400, becoming the 10th driver to win through the first 11 races of a parity-packed NASCAR Cup Series season.

On his 36th birthday, no less.

"We ran up front all day," the two-time Cup Series season champion said. "Just trying to make adjustments all day long to get it where we wanted. The final adjustments were a positive for us. Didn't necessarily take us from a third-place car to a winning car, but the restarts did."

Busch had stalked Kyle Larson all afternoon before beating him on a late restart to take the lead. Then, after another caution in the closing laps, Busch followed up his Truck Series win Saturday night by earning another trip to victory lane.

"That's a Kyle Busch win right there," he said with a smile.

It's his 17th straight season with a win on NASCAR's top circuit, tying David Pearson for second on the all-time list and moving him within one of Richard Petty's record streak. It also was his first with Beshore calling the shots from the pit box, and it gives Joe Gibbs Racing three drivers qualified for the playoffs, with Busch joining Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr., the only driver with two wins this year.

"I felt like we were a second-place car to the 5 car all day, to be honest," Beshore said of Larson in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. "Kyle just did an amazing job on the last couple of restarts there, taking the lead and then keeping it on the last couple."

Kevin Harvick overcame a tire mishap on a late pit stop and took advantage of some chaos on the final restart to finish second in a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. Team Penske's Brad Keselowski dominated the early laps before following his win at Talladega Superspeedway the weekend before by finishing third, and Wood Brothers Racing's Matt DiBenedetto and Hendrick's Chase Elliott, the reigning series champ, rounded out the top five.

Larson led a race-high 132 laps before his day ended in 19th place and bitter disappointment.

Even after he was beaten by Busch on that late restart, he had another chance when Bell got sideways in the fourth turn to bring out another caution. But on the restart with two laps to go, Larson got trapped behind Ryan Blaney and wound up getting him sideways while trying to give him a push, taking both of them out of contention.

"I planned on pushing Blaney as hard as I could," Larson said, "and I guess I was pushing too hard."

JGR's Denny Hamlin, searching for his first win this year, had a similarly frustrating finish. He had taken the lead on a restart with 32 to go before Larson applied pressure from behind and Hamlin wound up slapping the wall to bring out a caution.

 

IndyCar: O'Ward wins

FORT WORTH, Texas — Pato O'Ward felt calm while he enjoyed the ride in the closing laps at Texas Motor Speedway, getting his first IndyCar Series victory at the track closest to the Mexican-born driver's hometown.

O'Ward, who grew up at times in San Antonio, won in his 26th IndyCar start and second full season.

"It's really cool to do it in a place that's very close to my heart, is very close to home," said O'Ward, whose win came four days before his 22nd birthday. "It's a great place to do it. A lot of my family was here, so it's really cool to share this moment with them."

O'Ward passed Josef Newgarden with 23 laps to go and stayed in front the rest of the way in the No. 5 for Arrow McLaren SP.

The race was the second in as many days at the Fort Worth track, but this one was marred by IndyCar's second first-lap crash of the season. Six cars were done before they reached the green flag when Pietro Fittipaldi hit Sebastien Bourdais from behind, knocking the four-time open-wheel champion into Alexander Rossi. The cars of Ed Jones, Dalton Kellett and Conor Daly also were destroyed in the crash that happened as they approached the start-finish line for first time.

Newgarden finished 1.2443 seconds behind O'Ward, giving Chevrolet a 1-2 finish and its first victory this season. Graham Rahal was third, in front of Scott Dixon and Colton Herta.

Dixon led 163 of 248 laps Sunday at the 1.5-mile oval after being in front for 206 of 212 laps Saturday night in a 1-2 finish of New Zealanders, with rookie Scott McLaughlin second.

The two-day show in Texas concluded an exhausting stretch of four races over three weekends to open the season before going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the rest of May. The road course race there is May 15, with the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.

 

F1: Rivalry, respect grow

PORTIMAO, Portugal — Four-time reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton made two typically clinical overtakes to bounce back and win the Portuguese Grand Prix, earning a record-extending 97th career victory and stretching his championship lead over Max Verstappen to eight points in his bid for a record-breaking eighth season title.

Hamilton slipped to third at one point, but he slickly moved ahead on the 20th of 66 laps to finish ahead of Red Bull's Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"That was such a tough race, physically and mentally, keeping everything together," Hamilton said. "Right on my limit. Great race."

The 36-year-old British driver started second on the grid behind Bottas, who took a bonus point for the fastest lap. Verstappen thought he set the fastest time on his final lap, but it was deleted because he went wide of track limits.

Hamilton and the 23-year-old Verstappen have been in the top two in all three races this season, with Hamilton winning two of them heading into next Sunday's Spanish GP.

"When you know that you can go to the absolute limit, you can trust each other to just race super hard," Verstappen said. "I always have full trust in Lewis that we will give each other enough space."

Bottas earned the pole position Saturday to deny Hamilton a record-extending 100th, making him the third pole-sitter this year after Verstappen and Hamilton. He made a clean start to hold off Hamilton and Verstappen but dropped off.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT