NASCAR at Atlanta 2021 Results: Kurt Busch Holds Off Brother Kyle for 1st Win of Year

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2021

Kyle Busch (18) pits in front of Kurt Busch (1) during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, July, 11, 2021, in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
AP Photo/John Amis

Most brothers play out their athletic battles in the backyard or in the driveway.

Some do it at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch won the Quaker State 400 on Sunday by outlasting his brother Kyle in an intense final stage that saw them trade the lead multiple times. The older sibling seized the lead with more than 20 laps remaining and outlasted every late charge from the younger one to clinch the victory.


What a battle!<a href="https://twitter.com/KurtBusch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KurtBusch</a> passes his brother for the lead! TV: NBCSN // <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/wlBDnF5itJ">pic.twitter.com/wlBDnF5itJ</a>


CHECKERED FLAG: The battle of the brothers goes to <a href="https://twitter.com/KurtBusch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KurtBusch</a>! <a href="https://t.co/JZaIMqO2yg">pic.twitter.com/JZaIMqO2yg</a>

Ryan McGee @ESPNMcGee

Kurt Busch holds off little bro Kyle to win at Atlanta. He's won at least one race 8 straight years and in 18 of his 20 full-time seasons. His 33rd win ties Fireball Roberts for 25th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series victories list. <a href="https://t.co/T9oCLEzyPH">https://t.co/T9oCLEzyPH</a>

Before the brotherly showdown, the biggest storyline coming into the race was whether Kyle Larson would notch his first win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

He seemed ready to do just that considering his overall dominance this season with recent victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway and the All-Star Race, but Ryan Blaney prevailed in the last race in Atlanta by holding off Larson down the stretch.

Sean Montgomery of NASCAR.com noted that despite the runner-up finish to Blaney, Larson led 411 laps and won three of the last four stages in his previous two starts in Atlanta.

Yet he and the rest of the field were behind Kyle Busch after Stage 1, who won his fourth stage of the season. 

His brother Kurt was in second place after a stage that saw pole-sitter Chase Elliott drop back because of a mistake on pit road and a crash that involved Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cody Ware.


A rough pit stop for the pole sitter.<br><br>Chase Elliott drives past his pit box and loses a lot of spots. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> // NBCSN <a href="https://t.co/rlWpadDlY3">pic.twitter.com/rlWpadDlY3</a>


Trouble for Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Cody Ware!<br><br>An early exit for two drivers near the cut line to make the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> Playoffs. TV: NBCSN <a href="https://t.co/8FMAUeQLTU">pic.twitter.com/8FMAUeQLTU</a>

The family affair continued in the second stage, as Kurt jumped out to the lead and rode it to his third stage victory of the year with Kyle flipping the script and finishing in second.

Some of the drama in the second stage was due to rainy weather in the Atlanta area, and Aric Almirola went for a long-shot victory. The race was official in case of a rainout after the 130th lap, so Almirola remained on the track while the leaders went for pit stops and actually briefly held the lead after that 130th lap.


The stage winners at <a href="https://twitter.com/amsupdates?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@amsupdates</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/XRFfMoEzDv">pic.twitter.com/XRFfMoEzDv</a>

Alas, there was no postponement, and Kurt Busch eventually retook the lead and ended that strategy.

There wasn't much building on the momentum for the Busch brothers, though, as there was a lengthy delay at the start of the third stage because the track needed surface repairs. Such a delay was all the more notable because Atlanta Motor Speedway will be repaved for the 2022 season.


The red flag has been displayed at <a href="https://twitter.com/amsupdates?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@amsupdates</a> due to ongoing track repair on the frontstretch. <a href="https://t.co/Vjy8z4Btxr">pic.twitter.com/Vjy8z4Btxr</a>

Once racing resumed, it was all about whether Kurt would hold off Kyle. They both traded momentum, and the latter retook the lead on a cycle out after pitting ahead of his brother with fewer than 50 laps remaining.

Aaron Bearden @aaronbearden93

Kurt Busch led his 119th lap before his stop. That's the first time he's topped 100 laps led since the 2018 fall Talladega race &amp; the most laps he's led in an event since his 2015 win at Richmond Raceway (291).<br><br>He's also topped the 10,000 laps led mark today. Entered with 9,928.


The field cycles through and <a href="https://twitter.com/KyleBusch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KyleBusch</a> comes out in front of the No. 1! <a href="https://t.co/Xmp1L6Id3D">pic.twitter.com/Xmp1L6Id3D</a>

That lead didn't last for long, as Kurt took advantage of traffic and positioning from his teammate Ross Chastain to jump into first place heading into the final 20 laps.

The one opportunity was all he needed, and the elder Busch brother earned the checkered flag.