Kyle Busch didn’t look like a contender for the win for much of the 325-lap Advocare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night, but that all changed in the final 40 laps. went from third to first during a caution with 37 laps remaining and ran up front the rest of the way to take the win. It was his fourth victory of the season and it locked him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup field one race prior to the cutoff Sept. 7 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” Busch said. Their work tonight really helped us out. I wasn’t happy with the car at the beginning.”
Joey Logano finished second and Martin Truex Jr. was third.
For much of the race, drivers like Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer, and Brad Keselowski looked to have the cars to beat during varous stages of the race.
Edwards dominated the race early after taking the lead on a restart that followed the second caution of the race on lap 30. He led most of the laps with a few laps led by Logano here and there because of Logano being on a different pit sequence. Logano would make his way toward the front, only to lose positions on pit road the first couple of stops. He was able to maintain his position on pit road during the fourth caution of the race on lap 70, but then was forced to head down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop on lap 100 for a loose wheel.
Several laps later, though, the field cycled through green-flag pit stops. Logano stayed out having recently made a pit stop and stayed off-sequence through another green-flag cycle before getting back on the same schedule as everyone else when Bowyer lost his engine and brought out a caution on lap 193.
Several laps before the blown engine, Bowyer had taken over up front. He took the lead on lap 139 and pulled away. He remained up front, with the exception of a few laps during a cycle of green-flag stops just past lap 160, and was still in the lead when he lost his engine.
Logano then returned to the front for several laps, and Edwards joined him at the front. Both drivers opted to stay out during a caution on lap 106. Logano was able to continue on close to the front on older tires, but Edwards fell back through the field and never recovered. Logano did lose the lead to teammate Keselowski on the restart but continued on in second position for quite some time.
Keselowski continued to lead and was running up front when he began losing power around lap 144. Falling off the pace, Keselowski slid back through the field, handing the lead back over to Logano. Keselowski continued on for several laps before his engine finally went away, completely.
Logano led until the caution with 37 to go during which Busch took the lead by getting off pit road first. Logano dropped back to third. Truex and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch each spent some time in the second spot before Logano retook the position with about two laps remaining. At that time, Logano had the fastest car on the track, but he didn’t have enough time left to catch Kyle Busch.
“Wish it was five or six more laps,” Logano said of the race distance. “Big picture it’s (second-place finish) great. I just fell like I had the race-winning Ford.”
Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished fourth and fifth. Sixth through 10th went to Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR