Considering how badly Kyle Busch has fared in the Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway, he’ll certainly take any momentum he can get going into tomorrow’s Contender Round opener at the 1.5-mile oval.
Today, he got some.
Busch passed fellow Cup regular Kevin Harvick for the lead with 20 laps to go and went on to pick up his sixth Nationwide Series win of 2014 and his second in as many weeks.
So what can “Rowdy” take away from today’s victory and perhaps apply toward what he hopes will be a solid day tomorrow?
“You learn enough here,” Busch said to ESPN. “There was a bit of some moving around today – trying to run bottom, trying to run top, seeing where the different lines were in traffic and stuff like that.
“I feel like our Cup car is okay, and if we can get out of here with a Top-10 day tomorrow, that’d be pretty good.”
Ryan Blaney finished third for Team Penske, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ty Dillon finished fourth and fifth respectively.
In addition to Busch’s triumph, today may also prove notable for serving as the effective conclusion to the 2014 NNS title race.
Chase Elliott finished a perhaps sub-par 10th, but extended his championship lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith by an additional 12 points to 38 with four races remaining.
Smith was already having a bad Saturday after he spun and crashed in qualifying. Forced to race a backup car, Smith was making enough progress to minimize points damage – until he suffered a broken sway bar arm in the second half of the race.
After an extended repair on pit road, Smith eventually finished eight laps down in 22nd place.
The first half was marred by seven cautions within the first 90 laps, the last of those involving Sprint Cup rookie star Kyle Larson spinning off Turn 2 and then collecting early leader Chris Buescher.
Elliott Sadler held the lead at the halfway point, but at Lap 125, Busch took the lead from him with an inside pass. Green-flag stops then ensued just before Lap 140, with Busch himself giving up the lead for service at Lap 139.
The cycle had yet to be completed when Dakoda Armstrong spun off Turn 2 at Lap 144. Harvick was leading at this point and because he had not yet pitted under green, he became the only driver on the lead lap.
Harvick pitted under the caution and Busch, being the first driver one lap down, got the free pass while the others had to take the wave around. As that was being sorted out, Smith went to the pits for repairs after his car sustained the aforementioned broken sway bar arm.
The green returned with 48 laps to go, but one lap later, Elliott found himself caught in lapped traffic and after taking contact from Mike Bliss on the inside, he ended up clipping Jamie Dick on the outside and sent him into the wall.
Elliott, bearing some left rear damage, was among several leaders that chose to pit during the yellow. Back up front, Harvick held the point off of the restart with 40 to go.
But with less than 25 laps remaining, Busch pulled to within a couple of car lengths of Harvick. Then, with 20 to go, Busch went inside of Harvick off Turn 4 and cleared him coming out of the tri-oval.