Kyle Busch claimed his 32nd-career NASCAR Cup Series win, snapping a 46-race winless streak, Sunday in the South Point 400 at his hometown track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not only did the win secure his advancement to the third round of the 2020 playoffs, it also was the first win in the hometown of the former Cup Series champion in his 20th year of full-time competition in the series.
“This is what kids dream of when they grow up racing,” Busch said. “You dream of winning at your hometown track. And for two decades, it’s kicked my butt. And tonight, with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe. I knew the race would come to us. We needed to get to nightfall and one of those quirky Matt McCall [crew chief] pit sequences finally unfolded. We got lucky. You’ve got to be lucky. And you have to be lucky in any race, but we did it tonight with teamwork and pulling through and just not giving up.
“This is Vegas and I miss the fans. I miss them so much. My dad and my mom, they were there every day at the track pushing. And Brexton, my nephew, won last night. Those thoughts were running through my head because my hometown is special. This Vegas place is special. So thanks to Brendan Gaughan and South Point and everybody that makes this happen at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I couldn’t be happier.”
Matt DiBenedetto matched a career-best finish of second.
“Two seconds at Vegas. It’s tough to come that close; just wanted it so bad for this team,” DiBenedetto said. ”I love driving for the Wood Brothers. I want that number 100 for them so bad, and for Menards, the whole family and everything they do for us and the team, and having Duracell on the car this week, we’re keeping her charged up good. Motorcraft/Quick Lane, Ford, Roush Yates Engines, all these folks that allow me to drive a really fast hot rod. Our car was the best it had been at the end, just couldn’t get control on those restarts. The 1 car, Kurt, did a great job. We had completely different ratios for the restarts, and once he gained control of the race, he played the right games on the restarts, knew what we had on our weakness, there. Man, it’s tough to come that close. I just want it so bad, but I’m proud of the team. They did a great job. My pit crew did a great job tonight and really earned that one for us.”
Denny Hamlin finished third after leading a race-high 121 laps. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. was fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-five.
“We had a dominant car today, and I’m proud of the whole FedEx team for giving me such a great car,” Hamlin said. “By far the best car I’ve had in Las Vegas in a long time. It was really, really good. Happy with it and this new tire here. We’ll run that a few more times this year. Really encouraged by the way we ran, but very disappointed that we didn’t get a win. It’s just been the way that the playoffs have gone. Whoever stays out the longest puts themselves in a great spot to win.”
Hamlin’s laps-led tally was accumulated before his pit stop during a green-flag cycle of stops that began inside the final 40 laps. The cycle was interrupted by a caution with 32 laps to go, the fifth caution of the race, for a Jimmie Johnson wreck.
Hamlin was caught a lap down by the yellow flag, having already pitted. DiBenedetto was on pit road when the caution came out and Busch had yet to pit, so the race restarted with DiBenedetto and Busch on the front row. Hamlin restarted 11th after taking the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
Busch took the lead from DiBenedetto inside the final 24 laps and maintained the lead through two more restarts, the final one an overtime restart following a William Byron spin.
“The #11 [Hamlin] had a ton of speed,” Busch said. “I was wide-open. And you just have to manipulate the draft. I pulled out some old drag racing skills on the restarts. I knew that was our strong suit. We just put ourselves in position and we held off. Chip Ganassi was up in the suite somewhere, and I could feel him breathing over my neck. I want to win, and we did it.”
Hamlin failed to make up positions after taking the wave-around, so he pitted, again, for two tires during a caution with 17 laps to go and drove up to the top-five, to fourth position, by the overtime restart.
Hamlin and Chase Elliott combined to lead most of the two 80-lap stages that made up the first 160 laps, with Hamlin winning the opening stage and Elliott the second. Elliott took the lead from pole sitter Kevin Harvick at the start of the race and led the first 27 laps before Kyle Busch got off pit road first during a lap-25 competition caution.
Hamlin took the lead from his teammate, Busch, on the lap-31 restart after getting off pit road in the third position.
Just like during the competition caution, Busch was the first off pit road during the caution after the opening stage. Also like after the competition caution, Busch lost the lead to Hamlin on lap 88, one lap after the restart.
Elliott retook the lead from Hamlin on lap 92. About halfway through the second stage, drivers began cycling through their first round of green-flag pit stops. Elliott gave up the lead to make his stop on lap 119. After a handful of drivers stayed out longer, the cycle finally completed on lap 145 with Elliott and Hamlin running first and second.
Hamlin was first out of the pits after Elliott claimed his stage win. He lost his lead to Bowman, though, on the restart that followed. A few laps later, Hamlin reclaimed his lead.
Kyle Busch finished sixth, Ryan Blaney was seventh, Erik Jones eighth, Chris Buescher ninth, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.
“Started a little up, went a little down and finished just kind of mediocre, there,” Busch said. “We brought an okay M&Ms Camry. Just didn’t seem to have the overall speed that it needed, especially on the long runs early in the race. Then, there late, just no overall speed. Nothing to go blitz anybody and try to make moves and get to the front. We just salvaged along and got what we got. We got lucky to get what we got, for sure. It was looking like it was going to be a 12th or 14th place day but came home sixth.”
SOUTH POINT 400 RESULTS