MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Kurt Busch celebrated his 34th NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Kansas Speedway, but this one was different for Busch because of the circumstances.
Busch joined 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan, during the offseason and played a huge role in helping to assemble the team that works on the No. 45 Toyotas Busch drives.
At 43, Busch is one of the oldest drivers in the series.
“To me, this 45 car was a special project to leave my fingerprints on something when I’m done racing, because I know I’m in the twilight of my career and that’s what makes it even more special now that it’s a winner,” Busch explained. “We’re going to hang up a winning banner flag at 23XI here soon.”
Busch understands more than ever that it takes teamwork to win races.
“It gets down to teamwork and everybody has to pull the rope in the same direction,” Busch said. “Billy Scott was my first choice as a crew chief and he’s the structure of this 45 car.
“And to have guys and girls follow me over from Ganassi to make this happen and to have a group of rebels from different teams. My car chief is, like, ‘Man, I’ll jump out of retirement and come back and race with you.’”
Busch knows he’s mellowed with experience.
“I’m just happy to have a ride and happy to give my best,” he said Sunday. “Early in my career it was all about me, me, me, and now I’ve understood this is a team, and every element is super important.”
• Ross Chastain recovered from problems in the pits to finish seventh in his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.
“We started off pretty good and pretty early on in the race, we realized we were capable of a top-10 car,” Chastain said. “The first stage was good. We had a lug nut not get engaged on the left rear during the green flag stop in stage two, which we got lucky to even get it back on. We were able to cycle back around to about where we should have been, so that was fortunate.
From there, there was just a lot of ups and downs. We would restart upfront and then we’d restart in the back; and I can’t even remember what all happened exactly.”
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished eighth on Sunday at Kansas Speedway. It was his third consecutive top-10 finish.
“All-in-all, a really good day and another top-10 for our No. 47 Dillons / Louisiana Hot Sauce Camaro. After starting in the back from our issues in practice yesterday, I’m really happy with the result,” Stenhouse said. “We were solid on pit road. We made some good adjustments to get our car better. I felt like I was really strong at points, but we were around an eighth-place car. The top five were really, really fast and I didn’t have anything for them.”
• Erik Jones’ crew was unable to remove his right rear tire and had to cut the wheel off before replacing it, costing Jones seven laps before repairs were made.
“Our FOCUSfactor Chevy was decent today. We started out pretty good, but a little on the free side. The guys made good changes and made a pit call to get us in the top 10 and stage points at the end of stage one,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, we had the issue with our tire and getting the right rear off. That kind of ended our day after going multiple laps down. We’ll refocus and head to Texas for the All-Star race.”
• Austin Cindric was the best-finishing Ford driver on Sunday, bringing his Team Penske machine home 11th.
“I think the biggest thing I’m curious about is I felt like the track definitely changed,” Cindric said. “We were really strong there at the end of Stage 2. I don’t know if it was due to some of the cleaning of the track or what, but we went from being really solid – maybe just a little bit free – to kind of back to where I was at the beginning of the race, really tight. I wish we would have had a little more speed. I think we had to be perfect to run inside the top five today for sure. We had solid execution.”
• Six Toyotas and four Chevrolets finished in the top 10 Sunday.