Kurt Busch Reigns Supreme at Atlanta

Chiefly, Kurt Busch reigned supreme in Sunday's Quaker State 400 at Atlanta. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Chiefly, Kurt Busch reigned supreme in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at Atlanta. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

All in all, Kurt Busch summed up the importance of Sunday’s Quaker State 400.

Particularly, the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion understood what Round 21 of the season meant for him and his No. 1 team.

“I came into this weekend respecting the racetrack more than I ever have,” Busch said. “Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the top tracks for all the drivers based off of how we’re able to slide the car through the corners and choose which lane we want to race in.”

By all means, Kurt Busch observed an adage from Dr. Leonard McCoy to Lieutenant Commander Data regarding the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). In this case, Busch treated Atlanta quite nicely and she brought him home in grand fashion.

Certainly, Busch wasted little time making his way to the front after starting eighth. In fact, the 260 lap race at Atlanta seemed like a demonstration of the Busch brothers’ excellence.

Primarily, Kyle Busch seemed relentless in the early going immediately after taking the lead from Chase Elliott on lap 14. Save for some green flag pit stop cycles, Kyle and Kurt Busch covered the field with their dominant drives.

In fact, Kyle Busch captured the stage 1 win with Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman and Tyler Reddick rounding out the top five. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick placed sixth through 10th.

However, the action picked up in stage 2 when Kurt Busch bested Kyle Busch with Bowman, Larson and Hamlin placing inside the top five. Additionally, Hamlin, Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Truex netted top 10 results.

Similarly with Atlanta’s spring race, although with the winning battle between the Busch brothers, the action ratcheted up in the final 25 laps. While Larson’s bid for another victory virtually ended with a speeding penalty stemming from his final pit stop, the Busch brothers decided the 400.4 mile race among themselves.

Additionally, the Busch brothers are now even in their four head-to-head duels. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Additionally, the Busch brothers are now even in their four head-to-head duels. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Although Kurt Busch led between laps 132 to 212, Kyle Busch retook the lead with a fast pit stop from the No. 18 team. Naturally, the Quaker State 400 wound up being as much of a battle between the Busch brothers and getting around drivers at least one lap down.

Without doubt, with a little help from Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch worked past his younger brother on lap 236 just before turn 3.

Despite Kurt Busch’s incredible drive in his fast No. 1 Gearwrench Chevy, he had a formidable challenger in Kyle Busch in his No. 18 Skittles Gummies Toyota.

At times, the interval shrunk to a matter of a few car lengths. Ultimately, Kurt Busch prevailed against Kyle Busch by a margin of 1.237 seconds in Atlanta’s final race in its mid 1997 layout.

Even more, the Busch brothers added to Atlanta’s racing family legacy akin to the Labonte brothers’ magical moment in 1996.

In the first place, Kurt Busch claimed such a spot at Atlanta. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In the first place, Kurt Busch claimed such a spot at Atlanta. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“I’ll tell you, the adrenaline gets going,” Busch observed. “The childhood memories come back. The best of the best in this business is in my mirror. And yet I can giggle to myself sometimes and go, ‘Yeah, I taught him everything he knows.’ It’s an awesome, genuine battle between the two of us. We’ve had some friction over the years. But as we get older, we’ve gotten slightly bit wiser. And we’ve raced each other with a ton of respect on track to almost be teammates, even though we race for different organizations.

“He can take one, sit on the side. It’s all right, buddy, you can finish second. And now we’re tied on Busch Brother one-twos with two wins apiece.”

Understandably, Kyle Busch, while placing a strong second, reflected on his result with mixed emotions.

“We just didn’t have enough front end with laps on tires,” Busch said. “I had everything I had early in the run and then just smoked it behind the No. 42 (Ross Chastain), obviously. Just tried to fight hard after that when I got passed and had one valiant effort off of (turn) two, but didn’t have enough momentum to drag him down and make him go high in (turns) three and four, and after that the tires were smoked. Great effort. Guys gave me a great piece. We were fast. The No. 1 (Kurt Busch) was definitely better than us today. I just thought I had him. And we did. But racing just didn’t play out that way for us.”

Ultimately, Kurt Busch may pay a visit to his nephew Brexton’s next race to soothe the intensity of Sunday’s showdown.

Like the Bee Gees, the Busch brothers win again. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Like the Bee Gees, the Busch brothers win again. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“It was pretty quick,” Busch offered regarding his brother’s congratulations with their Kentucky 2019 duel. “Maybe on Tuesday at Millbridge. Little Brexton is racing, so I might surprise Kyle over there and stop by and say hi.”

Quaker State 400 Top 10 Finishers at Atlanta

Kurt Busch-Kyle Busch-Truex-Bowman-Blaney/Reddick-Elliott-Bell-DiBenedetto-Keselowski

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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