The victory was Busch’s fourth at the .533-mile track, his third of the season and the 19th of his career. Jaime McMurray came home third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
BRISTOL, Tenn.—Check off a major accomplishment from Kyle Busch’s bucket list.
Busch fended off strong challenges from David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray to win Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and complete his unprecedented sweep of three NASCAR national touring events at the same track in the same week.
On Lap 429 of 500, Busch nosed past Reutimann after an intense 15-lap battle and pulled away to a Sprint Cup victory that fit quite nicely with his Wednesday win in the Camping World Truck Series and his Friday triumph in the Nationwide Series.
“Oh, Dave, thank you, guys,” Busch radioed to crew chief Dave Rogers moments before crossing the finish line. “I can’t believe it—swept the weekend at Bristol!”
The victory was Busch’s fourth at the .533-mile track, his third of the season and the 19th of his career. McMurray came home third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne.
It was a statement race for Bowyer, who separated himself from Mark Martin in the battle for the final berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Bowyer overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to finish in the top five while Martin foundered to a 23rd-place result in a car that didn’t handle to his liking.
With two races left before the Chase field is set Sept. 11 at Richmond, Bowyer, 12th in the standings, leads McMurray, who supplanted Martin in 13th place, by 100 points. Martin is 14th, 101 points back.
The two drivers who are guaranteed at least a tie for top seeding when the Chase begins—Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin—had major issues in Saturday’s race.
After leading 175 laps, Johnson was fighting for position on Lap 262 when contact from Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chevrolet sent Johnson’s Chevy spinning down the backstretch and into the Turn 3 wall. The polesitter lost 66 laps during repairs and finished 35th.
Hamlin snapped a drive shaft near the midpoint of the race and lost 26 laps in the garage while his crew replaced it. He finished 34th. The only consolation for Johnson and Hamlin is that each has a series-best five victories, good for 50 bonus points to start the Chase.