In racing, every driver can say there’s a track they really enjoy coming to, and then there’s a track they loathe even approaching. It’s common because some simply just don’t have any luck.
At the same time, there are tracks where so much can go right, but it is one thing that goes wrong that keeps a victory from happening.
Both happened Saturday night in Kansas.
Let’s start with the latter, because Martin Truex Jr. has experienced that twice in a row, in the same race. A year ago, he had the entire field covered. His car was in a different time zone practically. So why exactly did he not celebrate? Tire strategy late in the race ultimately did him in, and left the team wondering exactly why this happened.
Fast forward nearly a year and it was a mirror image. Truex had the pole, and literally put the field on notice immediately from the drop of the green flag. It was going exactly how he planned, until the final round of stops.
He never went onto the track at full throttle before radioing back to the crew that he needed to return to the crew. It was happening again, because another tire issue put the No. 78 back in the field yet again. This time, however, it was a bad bounce that made the difference. The right-front wheel was put on, but a lug nut from the previous tire got wedged behind the hub, and the new tire wasn’t tight.
A loose wheel for the craziest of reasons put him back in the field, and relegated him to a sub-standard finish. Kansas now owes this young man two victories. He’ll get a win this season, that is a guarantee.
Now on the opposite side, Kyle Busch has not experienced that great of luck at Kansas. It was almost the same scenario for him as it was for Jeff Gordon at Texas for so many years. No matter the effort, unfortunate moments would take him out of the race, or he simply was not competitive. Even last year, Busch missed this race because of his injury, and Erik Jones had the duty of driving the No. 18. Kansas bit back late in the going when Jones found the fence and finished low in the field.
This track has been evil for Busch, but finally come Saturday night it all came together.
A late call on pit strategy, plus the desire to finally capture that win, was enough to push him to the front. The checkered flag was all he wanted, and finally it was his. The win on Saturday meant that of all the active tracks on the circuit, Busch has only two remaining to get a victory on, those being Charlotte and Pocono.
It was a race of what might have been, and also what has finally come. What a crazy night.
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Harvick 3-Kurt Busch 4-Kenseth 5-Blaney 6-Dillon 7-Newman 8-Allmendinger 9-Elliott 10-Keselowski
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Edwards 14-Truex Jr. 15-Earnhardt Jr. 37-Hamlin 38-Logano
CAUTIONS: 6 for 30 laps. Lap 24-27 (Debris-T4); 57-60 (#83 Incident-T4); 104-108 (#27 Incident-T2); 169-173 (Debris-BS); 235-239 (#17 Incident-T4); 242-248 (#2, 11, 22, 42 Accident-T4).
LEAD CHANGES: 16 among 10 drivers. M. Truex Jr 1-24; D. Ragan 25; Kyle Busch 26-57; M. DiBenedetto 58; M. Truex Jr 59-104; R. Smith 105; M. Truex Jr 106-158; J. Logano 159; D. Patrick 160-161; M. Truex Jr 162-172; M. Kenseth 173; M. Truex Jr 174-211; M. Kenseth 212-213; J. Logano 214-215; B. Keselowski 216-218; T. Stewart 219-230; Kyle Busch 231-267.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 49 Mins, 20 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 141.909 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.112 Seconds
CHASE GRID: 1. Kyle Busch-386 (Points), 3 (Wins); 2. Edwards-367, 2; 3. Johnson-353, 2; 4. Keselowski-332, 2; 5. Harvick-390, 1; 6. Hamlin-273, 1; 7. Kurt Busch, -50 (From 1st-Harvick); 8. Logano, -70; 9. Dillon, -83; 10. Earnhardt Jr, -85; 11. Truex Jr, -87; 12. Elliott, -87; 13. McMurray, -114; 14. Kenseth, -121; 15. Allmendinger, -125; 16. Blaney, -135.