NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Kyle Busch Dominates Toward Martinsville Win

Kyle Busch took his first victory at Martinsville Speedway in dominating fashion, leading a race-high 351 laps in Sunday’s STP 500. Holding off AJ Allmendinger in the final 11-lap run, Busch scored his 35th career Sprint Cup Series win and first of 2016.

“To be able to finally put it all together is pretty cool,” Busch said. “To lead as many laps as we did, that was really good for us. It was a confidence boost for me, just being up front that much. I’ve never really felt like I had a car to be able to do that in year’s past.”

To join the massive win, Busch completed the weekend sweep as he grabbed the win in Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series event.

“I checked off the Truck Series win yesterday,” Busch said. “I think I have concluded being able to win at all the active tracks that I’ve made a start in the Truck Series.”

Seeing the reigning champion grabbing a victory in command isn’t a large surprise, however, the rest of the top-4 spots speak otherwise. AJ Allmendinger passed Matt Kenseth for second spot on the final restart, finishing in the runner-up spot for his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team.

“I feel like we’ve been at our best at the end of the races,” Allmendinger said, matching his career-best short track finish. “We’ve maximized our finishes, whether they’re top 5 or you’re running 20th and you can get 18th out of it.”

Qualifying sixth on Friday, Allmendinger showcased a large step forward for he and his No. 47 team all weekend, standing firmly as a top-5 contender.

“We’re getting there,” he said. “There’s ups and downs. The biggest thing, especially with a team like ours, is when you have a good racecar, you’ve got to capitalize on it. Fortunately today we were able to do that.”

In Allmendinger’s wake was Kyle Larson who is two weeks removed from a hard crash at Auto Club Speedway. Rebounded strongly from early contact, Larson came home third.

larlar
Kyle Larson jumps to 21st in driver points after third-place result. (Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

“I’ve always struggled here,” Busch said. “With a good car, I was able to run up front around good drivers. Spent a lot of time around Jimmie [Johnson] and Kevin [Harvick].”

The third-year driver scored his 11th career top-5 finish of his Sprint Cup career. The strong run was backed by a top-5 finish in Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race, where he finished fourth.

“This is the only track on the circuit where the truck drives similar to a Cup car,” Larson continued. “I think double-duty definitely payed off.”

Another young talent in Austin Dillon continued a hot streak of finishes in 2016, finishing fourth in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – his first career short track top 5.

“It was pretty challenging,” Dillon said of the race. “I feel pretty good after the race, I’m not physically worn out. My hand is worn out, I got a big blister on my left hand from just turning the wheel. I had to put a lot of wheel in it and turn these things. It’s fun.”

The 500-lap event was led by a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for 397 a laps as Matt Kenseth spent 45 circuits out front. For the majority of the afternoon, however, the 44-year-old was within one second of race leader Kyle Busch until the final restart shuffled driver No. 20 back to 15th spot.

Fellow JGR mate Denny Hamlin found much harsher grounds at the ‘paper clip’ as he wheel-hopped his No. 11 Toyota into the Turn 1 wall, ending his day in the 39th spot.

A true feel-good story from Sunday was the run shown by Brian Vickers. The driver subbing for an injured Tony Stewart started the race from third and stayed consistent in the top dozen until the final run brought Vickers into the top 5. Falling two spots to seventh, the driver who has struggled with blood clots in the past six years found much confidence in the all-around powerful weekend.

“We came out strong there in the end,” Vickers said who is slated to run the next race at Texas in the No. 14. “Thought we were going to get a top 5 and then we got out-tired by some of those guys.”

Rounding out the top-10 finishers is Brad Keselowski in fifth, who battled back from an early pit road speeding penalty, followed by Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman.

Greg Biffle came home a solid 12th for Roush Fenway Racing while Danica Patrick scored her best finish of the season in 16th.

STP 500 FINAL RESULTS

Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led Pts
1 7 18 usa   Kyle Busch M&M’s 75th Anniversary   (Joe Gibbs) Toyota 500 running 352 45
2 6 47 usa   A.J. Allmendinger Kroger / Butterfinger / Coffee Mate   (JTG-Daugherty Racing) Chevrolet 500 running 0 39
3 17 42 usa   Kyle Larson Target / Cottonelle   (Chip Ganassi) Chevrolet 500 running 0 38
4 29 3 usa   Austin Dillon Dow   (Richard Childress) Chevrolet 500 running 0 37
5 11 2 usa   Brad Keselowski Miller Lite   (Roger Penske) Ford 500 running 0 36
6 25 19 usa   Carl Edwards Arris   (Joe Gibbs) Toyota 500 running 0 35
7 3 14 usa   Brian Vickers Janssen / Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation   (Stewart Haas Racing) Chevrolet 500 running 0 34
8 4 27 usa   Paul Menard Libman / Menards   (Richard Childress) Chevrolet 500 running 10 34
9 24 48 usa   Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s   (Rick Hendrick) Chevrolet 500 running 0 32
10 5 31 usa   Ryan Newman Grainger   (Richard Childress) Chevrolet 500 running 0 31
11 1 22 usa   Joey Logano Shell / Pennzoil   (Roger Penske) Ford 500 running 21 31
12 14 16 usa   Greg Biffle Roush Performance   (Jack Roush) Ford 500 running 0 29
13 23 41 usa   Kurt Busch Haas Automation / Monster Energy   (Stewart Haas Racing) Chevrolet 500 running 0 28
14 21 88 usa   Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Nationwide Insurance   (Rick Hendrick) Chevrolet 500 running 0 27
15 9 20 usa   Matt Kenseth Dollar General   (Joe Gibbs) Toyota 500 running 45 27
16 28 10 usa   Danica Patrick TaxAct   (Stewart Haas Racing) Chevrolet 500 running 0 25
17 19 4 usa   Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s   (Stewart Haas Racing) Chevrolet 500 running 72 25
18 16 78 usa   Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row / Denver Mattress   (Barney Visser) Toyota 500 running 0 23
19 12 21 usa   Ryan Blaney Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center   (Wood Brothers) Ford 500 running 0 22
20 10 24 usa   Chase Elliott 3M   (Rick Hendrick) Chevrolet 499 running 0 21
21 22 23 usa   David Ragan Dr. Pepper   (BK Racing) Toyota 499 running 0 20
22 2 5 usa   Kasey Kahne Great Clips   (Rick Hendrick) Chevrolet 499 running 0 19
23 15 1 usa   Jamie McMurray Bad Boy Off Road / Beechcraft   (Chip Ganassi) Chevrolet 499 running 0 18
24 27 95 usa   Michael McDowell K-LOVE Radio   (Leavine Family Racing) Chevrolet 498 running 0 17
25 30 15 usa   Clint Bowyer 5-Hour Energy   (Harry Scott, Jr.) Chevrolet 497 running 0 16
26 26 44 usa   Brian Scott Goody’s Mixed Fruit Blast   (Richard Petty Motorsports) Ford 496 running 0 15
27 32 6 usa   Trevor Bayne AdvoCare   (Jack Roush) Ford 496 running 0 14
28 33 38 usa   Landon Cassill MDS Transport   (Bob Jenkins) Ford 495 running 0 13
29 35 83 usa   Matt DiBenedetto Cosmo Motors   (BK Racing) Toyota 495 running 0 12
30 31 98 usa   Cole Whitt RTIC Coolers   (Jay Robinson) Chevrolet 495 running 0 11
31 18 13 usa   Casey Mears GEICO   (Germain Racing) Chevrolet 494 running 0 10
32 13 17 usa   Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Milwaukee / Fastenal   (Jack Roush) Ford 494 running 0 9
33 36 34 usa   Chris Buescher CSX “Play it Safe”   (Bob Jenkins) Ford 491 running 0 8
34 34 7 usa   Regan Smith Advanced Patient Care   (Tommy Baldwin, Jr.) Chevrolet 491 running 0 7
35 38 46 usa   Michael Annett Pilot / Flying J   (Harry Scott, Jr.) Chevrolet 490 running 0 6
36 37 32 usa   Joey Gase Donate Life   (Archie St. Hilaire) Ford 490 running 0 0
37 40 55 usa   Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports   (Jay Robinson) Chevrolet 490 running 0 4
38 39 30 usa   Josh Wise The Motorsports Gorup   (Curtis Key) Chevrolet 326 engine 0 3
39 8 11 usa   Denny Hamlin FedEx Express   (Joe Gibbs) Toyota 221 crash 0 2
40 20 43 usa   Aric Almirola STP   (Richard Petty Motorsports) Ford 206 engine 0 1

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