Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 19, 2018, 11:59 a.m.
I found a bit of irony in the outcome of Saturday night’s Monster Energy Cup race in Bristol, Tennessee.
Kyle Busch gets lusty responses when he is introduced twice yearly to the fans of Bristol Motor Speedway. I don’t think it’s as malevolent as it seems. The fans are mostly just weary of Kyle Busch victories. Results have made thousands who are not fans for him into fans against him.
The seven-time Bristol winner would not go away, rising from the ashes of a lap-two wreck like some monster in a sci-fi flick. Relatively late, it appeared as if he might somehow pull off another victory, but his crumpled Toyota finally ran out of steam (and air in a tire) with under 10 laps to go.
Would-be Rowdy finished 20th, three laps down. He flashed his skills, came up short, and fans would have breathed a sigh of relief …
… Had not the race been won by the other Busch, Kyle’s older brother Kurt, who, before Kyle started dominating Bristol … dominated Bristol.
Kurt once won three straight Bristol races and four out of five. He had not won at the track, though, since his fifth victory in 2006, and 20 races, seven of them won by his brother, had passed since.
The tilt of the “Anybody but a Busch” grandstands began with Kurt.
For those who remember the Kurt Busch Bristol conquests of the previous decade, Saturday night’s performance was reminiscent. His brother wins in every manner of ways, but Kurt has always, when successful, followed a similar formula. Kurt Busch keeps clear of trouble while most around him are getting nicked and dented. When the time to strike arrives, Kurt’s car is the most intact. He will mix it up with anyone, but usually not until it’s time.
Let the record note that Kurt, like his brother, was involved in the second-lap pileup, but Kyle’s Toyota required more extensive repairs than Kurt’s Ford.
What is the inexplicable knack these brothers from the neon Las Vegas plain have for the barren hills of Tennessee?
“Just the attack,” Kurt said. “Go after it. You run hard. You run 99 percent here all the time. That’s what Kyle and I do. It pays off at this track until you step over that one percent line. This track just fits our style. I don’t know what it is about it. A guy like (runner-up Kyle) Larson? We know he goes 99 percent all the time. Now he’s starting to find his rhythm.”
At Bristol Motor Speedway, the Busch Brothers are a swing band.
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