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Kurt Busch overtook brother Kyle with 24 laps remaining and won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race for a sibling weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kurt Busch drove to his first win of the season, 33rd overall and fourth of his career in Atlanta. He secured a spot in the playoffs and possibly improved his chances of a new drive next season.
“Damn it, we beat Kyle!” said Kurt Busch.
Kyle Busch regained the lead with 47 remaining laps, but couldn’t stop his older brother on lap 236. Kurt Busch used the lap traffic to overtake his brother.
Kyle Busch was fighting for the lead with eight laps to go, but 42-year-old Kurt pulled away in the final laps and won by 1.237 seconds.
Kyle Busch won the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, giving him five wins out of his five races maximum that season. He said he has no plans to return to the Xfinity Series next season.
Kurt Busch’s contract with Chip Ganassi Racing expires at the end of the year and Ganassi sold the team to Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks this month.
It was the last race for the current surface at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was installed in 1997 and is the oldest on the NASCAR circuit. Construction work for a redevelopment and profiling project will begin immediately.
“Today I will only attach so much importance to winning the last race because it will be that old nostalgic feeling,” said Kurt Busch before the race.
Brandon Hutchinson, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, said the renewal was overdue. Proof of the poor condition of the old asphalt were holes that had to be repaired in the front area immediately after the second stage.
The race was delayed 19 minutes during a red flag stop when a crew filled the gaps in the track with sealant.
Martin Truex Jr. finished third after starting at the bottom. Alex Bowman finished fourth, followed by Ryan Blaney.
Pole-sitter Chase Elliott finished seventh. Elliott fell behind after his brakes locked causing him to miss his pit lane on a competition warning on lap 27. Elliott struggled to make up ground and remained winless on seven starts on his home track in Atlanta.
Light rain and the risk of a heavy downpour influenced the strategy towards the end of the second stage. Some drivers have been instructed to postpone pit stops and stay on the track in case rain forces a delay or an early end to the race. There was no weather delay.
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Truex was scheduled to start fifth but was pushed to the bottom of the group after his Toyota failed two pre-race inspections.
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Denny Hamlin was fifth at the end of the second stage, but was penalized for entering the pits too quickly and had to move to the back of the field to restart. He was 13.
The NASCAR Cup Series moves to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Brad Keselowski won last year’s race.