Kurt Busch slam dunks his way to first Kansas victory!

Kurt Busch battled hard with Kyle Larson and younger brother Kyle Busch in the final half of stage three going from third to first, passing Kyle Larson in turn two with eight to go, to slam dunk his way to his first ever win at Kansas Speedway after 33 tries and score his first win with 23XI Racing.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch would lead the most laps, 116 in total, and win stage two before earning his 34th NASCAR Cup Series career victory.

Kurt Busch was appropriately sporting a sharp looking Jordan brand primary paint scheme for the race, winning for the first time for co-team owners NBA legend Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, racing in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Speaking to FOX’s Jamie Little Kurt Busch said: “With the Jordan brand on the hood, I felt like I had to play like the goat, race like the goat, and I had to beat the Kyles, I had to beat both.” Busch said he was sporting Michael Jordan’s colours, when Jordan won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1988.

With 86 laps to go, Larson had attempted the slide job on Kurt Busch for the lead but after getting by on the inside he got loose and began spinning sideways and slid into the wall before saving it as Kurt Busch got back around him.

On the next restart, after a caution came out for Chase Elliott losing a tyre and wildly spinning down the race track, Kurt Busch and Larson battled side by side for the lead for two laps before Larson tagged the turn four wall, allowing Kurt Busch to hold the lead.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, and Kyle Larson, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, race side by side during the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch, after a speeding penalty at the start of stage three that had sent him to the rear, had worked all his way up to second and was three seconds behind his older brother. Another caution with less than 40 to go, this time for what NASCAR said was fluid on the front straightaway, saw the field bunch up again and the following laps saw a three-way battle for the lead with Kurt Busch and Larson leading the charge with Kyle Busch closely following the pair.

Larson and Kyle Busch would both get past Kurt Busch but with 22 laps to go, with Kyle Busch unable to find a way past Larson, Kurt Busch would sail past on the back straightaway and quickly close down Larson.

Kyle Larson (front), the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, Kyle Busch (middle), the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, and Kurt Busch (back), the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, racing in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

With eight to go, Kurt Busch would run Larson tight but fair up against the turn two wall. Larson slid briefly into the wall allowing Kurt Busch to take back the lead and win.

Kyle Larson would finish second and Kyle Busch would finish third. After having an up and down day, Denny Hamlin would finish fourth. Kurt Busch’s 23XI teammate Bubba Wallace would finish 10th.

It was a very successful day for Toyota overall, with four Toyota’s making up the top five finishing positions with Bell finishing fifth and six Toyota’s making up the top-10 with Martin Truex Jr. finishing sixth.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch would both congratulate Kurt Busch on pit road as he drove to victory lane.

This was also Kurt Busch’s first win with Toyota in the Cup Series, now making him a NASCAR Cup driver to have won with four different manufacturers; them being Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet and now Toyota.

Kansas week also marked the 22nd anniversary of the tragic passing of NASCAR driver Adam Petty, who was just 19. Before the start of the 2022 season, Adam Petty’s father Kyle Petty had given his blessing to 23XI Racing for the use the No. 45 number, the number that Adam Petty raced with. After the race Kurt Busch said: “It’s a small spiritual connection.”

The start of the race saw a green race track due to rain the previous night and that morning, with pole sitter Christopher Bell leading the opening nine laps before Tyler Reddick would get by on the next restart as Bell slid up the race track.

Christopher Bell, the No. 20 Rheem Toyota, leads the field to green in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

As the track rubbered in, the top lane became the preferred lane as the bottom and middle lanes lost grip due to the rubber build up.

Larson took the lead away from Reddick on lap 34 but on the next restart after losing positions on pit road, Larson got fender damage in traffic and fell outside the top 10. Bell led the middle half of stage one before discovering under caution that he had a flat left rear tyre.

Bell was not the only driver to have flat left rear tyre issues, as B. J. McLeod and Daniel Suárez would bring out cautions for spinning out with flats. Suárez was running fourth on lap 62 at the time when he hit the turn four wall and spun.

Daniel Suárez hits the turn four wall and spins onto the infield during stage 1 of the race at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Jennifer Fisher/NASCAR Digital Media)

With 13 laps to go, Kyle Busch would take the lead and fend off Ross Chastain for the final seven laps to win stage one.

Kyle Busch, the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, racing in AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The start of stage two saw the No. 43 Petty GMS Racing team relentlessly try to get Erik Jones’s right rear tyre off. Saws, hammers and drills were used to try to get the tyre off with FOX’s Mike Joy saying: “That’s truck stop torture right there.” They settled on cutting away the wheel to get access to the lug nut which they eventually did and free the tyre from the car. Jones would return to the track seven laps down.

Stage two continued the theme of flat right rear tyres, as now leader William Byron who had recently taken the lead over from Chastain and Truex Jr. at the start of stage two, had to take to the apron and give up the lead due to one. Tyler Reddick got a flat after slapping the wall too many times. Truex Jr. would also get a flat left rear tyre at the end of stage two and be forced to give up fourth position.

Bubba Wallace (right), the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota, and Tyler Reddick (left), the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet, race side by side in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Chastain would lead the following laps until Kurt Busch, who had only managed 12th in stage one, would take the lead for the final 50 laps to win stage two. Kurt Busch was the first driver this season to win both stage two and the race, ending the curse.

The Busch brothers continue their recent dominance at Kansas Speedway. Kyle Busch appropriately won last spring’s fan named “Buschy McBusch 400” at Kansas despite the race being named after the Busch beer company that primarily sponsor Kevin Harvick. Kyle Larson nearly went back to back as he won last fall’s Kansas race.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Mix Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 02,(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

It was special race week all around for the Busch family as Kyle and Samantha Busch welcomed their second child, Lennix Key Busch into their life on May 10th.

Full race results: (1st) Kurt Busch, (2nd) Kyle Larson, (3rd) Kyle Busch, (4th) Denny Hamlin, (5th) Christopher Bell, (6th) Martin Truex Jr., (7th) Ross Chastain, (8th) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (9th) Alex Bowman, (10th) Bubba Wallace, (11th) Austin Cindric, (12th) Ryan Blaney, (13th) Austin Dillon, (14th) Brad Keselowski, (15th) Kevin Harvick, (16th) William Byron, (17th) Joey Logano, (18th) Noah Gragson, (19th) Corey Lajoie, (20th) Ty Dillon, (21st) Harrison Burton, (22nd) Cole Custer, (23rd) Michael McDowell, (24th) Chase Briscoe, (25th) Todd Gilliland, (26th) Aric Almirola, (27th) Chris Buescher, (28th) Josh Bilicki, (29th) Chase Elliott, (30th) Tyler Reddick, (31st) JJ Yeley, (32nd) Erik Jones, (33rd) Daniel Suárez, (34th) Cody Ware, (35th) Justin Haley, (36th) B. J. McLeod.

Top 10 in stage 1: (1st) Kyle Busch, (2nd) Ross Chastain, (3rd) Chase Elliott, (4th) Tyler Reddick, (5th) William Byron, (6th) Martin Truex Jr., (7th) Bubba Wallace, (8th) Erik Jones, (9th) Ryan Blaney, (10th) Alex Bowman.

Top 10 in stage  2: (1st) Kurt Busch, (2nd) Kyle Busch, (3rd) Ryan Blaney, (4th) Austin Cindric, (5th) Chase Elliott, (6th) Kyle Larson, (7th) Ross Chastain, (8th) Denny Hamlin, (9th) Joey Logano, (10th) Bubba Wallace.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (475), 2nd Ryan Blaney (423), 3rd Kyle Busch (417), 4th William Byron (415), 5th Ross Chastain (407), 6th Martin Truex Jr, (400), 7th Joey Logano (396), 8th Alex Bowman (386), 9th Kyle Larson (376), 10th Christopher Bell (359).

Featured Image: Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway( Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Virginia native Denny Hamlin captures fourth Richmond victory

Denny Hamlin took the lead with five laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick to win his fourth Richmond Cup race in his native state of Virginia.

NASCAR’s Toyota Owners 400 race came down to a split strategy showdown in the closing laps. Third place Denny Hamlin and fourth place Kevin Harvick were on a two stop strategy for the final stage of the race while leaders William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. had split the final stage in half.

As sun began to set and the laps got down to single digits, Hamlin was catching Byron by a second a lap, with Byron being on much older tyres. Byron had held a four second gap over Truex Jr with 25 to go but this began shrinking significantly inside 15 to go. Hamlin flew by Truex with six to go and sped by Byron on the inside on lap 396 of 400 to take the lead away. Harvick did appear to be catching Hamlin with two to go but after Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola got out of the way on the back straightaway on the final lap, Hamlin set sail for the checkered flag.

Denny Hamlin passes William Byron for the lead inside of five to go (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a roller-coaster start to the season, this was not just Hamlin’s first win of the year but his first top-10 finish of the season after seven races. This was also Toyota’s first Cup win of the season and was rather appropriate being the title sponsor of the race.

Denny Hamlin celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

There were nearly more green flag pit stop cycles completed today than the first six races combined. Long green flag runs is often the way with Richmond and Sunday’s race was no exception. This gave extra weight to the two stop versus one stop strategies that played out during stage two and the final stage of the race but ultimately fresher tyres came out on top; partly due to Truex Jr. and Byron wearing each other out and faster lap down cars on fresher tyres taking away the inside lane that they wanted to run, allowing Hamlin and Harvick to gain more time on them.

It was a stellar day for the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s overall with all four running in the top seven at one point. Truex Jr. had worked his way to the front from the drop of the green flag and won stage two on the one stop strategy, the same strategy that arguably cost him the win in addition to getting stuck behind the wake of Byron’s Hendrick Chevrolet for the last 100 laps. This is despite being on 10 lap fresher tyres.

Martin Truex Jr. leading at Richmond (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had worked his way to fourth but was black flagged with 50 laps to go for having tape over his grille that cost him a top-5 finish. Kyle Busch’s crew chief claimed the tape had been on there for 200 laps and were frustrated with NASCAR’s call in forcing them down pit road to remove it. Christopher Bell had led the field in the second quarter of the race and came home sixth.

The first quarter of the race was the Ryan Blaney show however. After securing the pole he led the first 100 laps and won stage one with Byron finishing second, before losing the lead in stage two. Last week’s winner Ross Chastain did not make friends with Blaney during the race. While fighting inside the top five towards the end of stage two, Blaney drove up alongside Chastain and pushed the watermelon man up the race track in turns three and four. Chastain returned the favour and pushed Blaney into turn one before Blaney veered to the right to a loss of grip and Chastain retook the position. Blaney had the final laugh as he gave Chastain a little shot into turn three late on in the race in and got by.

Ryan Blaney leading the field at the start of the race (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Team Penske teammate Joey Logano had made it up to second halfway through the race but the team’s jack became jammed underneath his car and would lose track position and only manage to recover to a top-20 finish.

The Roush Fenway Keselowski racing car’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher had a good outing and were fighting for a top-10 spot for much of the race.

There would be a couple of crashes during the race. Lap 245 would see an caution a few laps after the start of the final stage due to a crash between Cody Ware, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr that left all parties upset. On lap 260 there would be another caution after contact between Austin Cindric and Cole Custer, causing Cindric to spin out. This was triggered after Ty Dillon had washed up into Custer in turn two as he came slightly down.

Part two of the Virginia tour takes place at Martinsville Speedway under the lights this Saturday night; another track that Hamlin has had great success at, winning five Cup series races at the half mile paperclip.

Top 10 finishing order of the Toyota Owners 400 

  1. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  2. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
  3. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  4. Martin Truex Jr (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  5. Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  6. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  7. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford)
  8. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  9. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  10. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)  

Featured Image: Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Le Mans 24: Midnight report

LMP1:

As expected, Toyota hold the lead of the LMP1 field at midnight. Mike Conway kept the #7 TS050 in front at the start, leading from pole position during the first two hours before handing over to Kamui Kobayashi.

The two Toyotas briefly traded places later in the evening as a series of safety car periods brought the cars nose-to-tail. Kazuki Nakajima, taking over the #8 Toyota from Fernando Alonso, passed José María López in the #7 to take the lead. Lopez retook the lead shortly after only to surrender it with a trip through the gravel, but by hour 9 the two cars had swapped once again and the #7—with Conway back the wheel—resumed the lead.

Third place was long held by the #3 Rebellion which, in the hands of Gustavo Menezes, moved up from fourth on the grid and held off advances by Vitaly Petrov in the #11 SMP. However this came to an end later in the evening, when Thomas Laurent put the #3 in the wall and dropped two laps behind the two SMPs, with Egor Orudzhev’s #17 now the Russian team’s lead car.

There was trouble throughout the first ten hours for the remaining privateers. Bruno Senna picked up a puncture for the #1 Rebellion in the first hour and dropped to last in class, while the #4 ByKolles made eight difficult pitstops in the by hour 3. Later in the afternoon the #10 DragonSpeed entered the garage and has remained there since.

Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA WEC Media

LMP2:

Signatech Alpine took an early lead as Nicholas Lapierre moved the #36 up from third to first off the line. But impressive pace from Jean-Éric Vergne and Dutch rookie Job van Uitert in the #26 G-Drive soon put the #36 under pressure, and Van Uitert took the class lead during his second stint.

The remaining class podium position changed hands several times during the first ten hours of the race. Initially Matthieu Vaxiviere held third in the #28 TDS Racing, but a strong opening stint from Giedo van der Garde took the position for the #29 Racing Team Nederland.

However, at hour 3 Nyck de Vries picked up a puncture during his stint in the #29. Anthony Davidson’s #31 DragonSpeed was briefly promoted to third, but was dropped down to fourth by the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing.

Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA WEC Media

GTE:

Corvette took first blood in the Pro class with Antonio Garcia moving the #63 up from third to first. But over the course of the afternoon the Porsches hauled in the Corvette and the #92 took the lead with Kevin Estre at the wheel.

In the Am class, Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche converted pole into an early lead. But this was lost when he handed over to Satoshi Hoshino, who spun the #88 on the Mulsanne Straight and handed the lead to Giancarlo Fisichella in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Hoshino would be involved in another, much heavier incident later in the evening as he collided with Marcel Fassler’s #64 Corvette, making the first official retirement of the race.

Le Mans LMP1: Alonso adds to Triple Crown bid with #8 Toyota win

Toyota broke its 24 Hours of Le Mans curse with an emotional 1–2 finish led home by the #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso.

#8 and #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrids / Toyota Gazoo Racing

The Japanese marque was the overwhelming favourite coming into the 86th running of Le Mans, and aggressive opening stints from both Buemi and the #7 car’s Mike Conway soon put the two TS050 Hybrids well ahead of the privateer LMP1 entries battling for third.

The #7 gained the advantage late on Saturday when Buemi earned the #8 car a 60-second stop-go penalty for speeding in a slow zone. But a pair of rapid nighttime recovery drives by first Alonso and then Nakajima saw the #7’s lead disappear. Nakajima then completed the #8’s comeback in the 16th hour by snatching first place from Kamui Kobayashi on the inside of Arnage.

The #8 went on to hold the lead for the remaining eight hours, while the #7 dropped back after a series of late difficulties that included Jose Maria Lopez spinning at the Dunlop chicane and Kobayashi missing a pit stop and needing to take an extra lap at full course yellow speed to save fuel.

In the end Nakajima brought the #8 Toyota across the line with two laps in hand over Kobayashi in the sister car, which was a further ten laps clear of the #3 Rebellion in third. The win was Toyota’s first at Le Mans after 19 attempts and the first by a Japanese manufacturer since Mazda in 1991. Nakajima meanwhile became the first Japanese driver to win since Seiji Ara did so with Audi in 2004.

#3 Rebellion Racing R13 / Joao Filipe, WEC Media

Behind the Toyotas, Rebellion and SMP Racing immediately established themselves as the chief contenders for best-of-the-rest.

After Andre Lotterer lost the nose of his #1 Rebellion in a first lap collision, it was Thomas Laurent in the sister #3 who took charge of the Swiss team’s race by pressuring the #17 SMP of Stephane Sarrazin for third.

The two Frenchmen and their subsequent replacements swapped third and fourth position several times in the opening hours of the race, although the battle was eventually ended early and in Rebellion’s favour when Matevos Isaakyan spun the #17 into the barriers at the Porsche Curves shortly after midnight.

Isaakyan’s crash came not long after Dominik Kraihamer spun the #4 ByKolles out of the race at the same part of the track. The #10 Dragonspeed was another casualty of the Porsche Curves with Ben Hanley finding the barriers in hour 17, while the Manor-run #6 CEFC Ginetta and the #11 SMP were both waylaid by mechanical troubles to make it five LMP1 retirements by the end of the race.

That left the #1 Rebellion—which recovered from its opening lap crash and several late penalties to take fourth—and the #5 CEFC Ginetta, as the only surviving LMP1 cars outside of the podium.

#6 CEFC Ginetta G60-LT-P1 / Joao Filipe, WEC Media

Toyota can’t fail this year

Le Mans 24 – Iconic. Photo credit Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC

Toyota have never won the 24 hours of Le Mans which is one of the world’s most demanding races. They are massive favourites this year and they have got the best chance through various reasons! 

Toyota are the only team in the leading LMP1 Hybrid class, as Porsche withdrew from the series last year. They have no realistic competition and you could say the LMP1 rule book gives them an advantage that places Toyota in firm control.

The number seven car will be piloted by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López. Photo credit, Toyota WEC

The handicaps that the privateer LMP1 teams are as follows. They are not allowed to lap faster than the hybrid class, and if the privateers do, they will get a drive through penalty. The others involves the pit stops, in that a hybrid car can go a lap longer of 11 laps on fuel, whilst the privateer cars can only go 10 laps. Finally the hybrids also have a minimum pit stop time of 5 seconds which shorter than the other class. Toyota therefore will spend much less time in the pits than any other team. So realistically reliability is the only thing that would prevent them. 

Toyota have come so close in recent years and it was reliability that stopped them. The team came closest in 2016, it was leading for 23hrs 55mins until a failure happened on the penultimate lap. Porsche overtook them for victory, it was heartbreaking for the Japanese team. To add insult to injury the car took them over 11 minutes to finish the last lap which meant they were not even classified. In the race you have to complete the last lap in under 6 minutes by regulation 10.5 to be classed.

Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Le Mans rookie Fernando Alonso pilot the number eight car. Photo credit, Toyota WEC

In their #8 challenger, they have Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, who is driving for them as well McLaren in Formula 1. Alonso has taken to endurance racing like a duck to water as it was his car that took victory in the first round of the World Endurance Series in Spa, Belgium. It was his first win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix in F1. 

To have without a doubt the fastest car on the grid, rules restricting the limited opposition they have and an increased calibre of drivers is it just a matter of the #7 or #8 taking victory?

It would be embarrassing for the manufacturer to lose this year, they would become a laughing stock. If they fail to win I also see the end of the LMP1 Hybrid category. To have one team in that field is also just ridiculous. 

We’ll find out! Follow @PitCrew_Online as we’ll have commentary throughout,  and get the kettle on for the early hours. 

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