NASCAR at Bristol 2018 Results: Kurt Busch Holds On to Take Checkered Flag

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 19, 2018

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 18: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, speaks to the crowd during introductions prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 18, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Kurt Busch snapped a streak of 58 straight races without a victory by taking home the checkered flag at Saturday night's Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. 

The win was Busch's sixth on this track in his career, but his first since 2006. It also secured the No. 41 car a spot in the playoffs, which will begin on Sept. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

There were a total of 15 cars on the lead lap down the final stretch thanks, in part, to contact between Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch that ended Busch's night early. 

Here's how the top of the leaderboard from Tennessee looked after the 500-lap race, via NASCAR.com:

1. Kurt Busch

2. Kyle Larson

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3. Chase Elliott

4. Joey Logano

5. Erik Jones

6. Clint Bowyer

7. Ryan Blaney

8. Alex Bowman

9. Jimmie Johnson

10. Kevin Harvick

Kyle Busch was at the center of controversy earlier in the race. His car nudged Martin Truex Jr. coming around a corner that sent Truex into the wall and ended his night. 

NASCAR reporter Jeff Gluck didn't see any malicious intent from Kyle in the accident, though he didn't absolve the 33-year-old from responsibility:

Kyle's car took a beating throughout the race, leading to the final accident in the last 20 laps that forced him into the garage before he would have liked:

Despite multiple rough moments in the race, including his second did-not-finish result of the season, Kyle still holds a 43-point edge over Kevin Harvick in the points standings. Harvick is ahead in the playoff standings with 40 points thanks to seven wins. Kyle is in second place with 35 points. 

The Busch family still had plenty to celebrate thanks to Kurt's victory. He is in his final year with Stewart-Haas Racing and hasn't given any indication what the future holds. 

As recently as Aug. 10, Jayski.com (h/t ESPN.com) noted Kurt has talked with multiple teams about potentially joining them in 2019.

Motorsport.com's Jim Utter reported Kurt will replace Jamie McMurray at Chip GanassiRacing next season, though an official announcement has not yet been made.

Saturday's victory is a huge feather in the cap for Kurt heading into the season's final stretch. He started from the ninth position to secure his first victory since the 2017 Daytona 500. 

While Kurt is celebrating his moment in the spotlight, Kyle Larson's frustrating season continues. The 26-year-old came into Bristol with tremendous momentum after winning the pole in qualifying. 

Larson was forced to settle for second place at this track for the second time in 2018. He has finished in the top 10 four straight times at Bristol dating back to last season, but he is still in search of his first victory here. 

Three drivers—Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott—each led more than 100 laps. Blaney took home the additional playoff point for leading the most laps (121), though he was forced to settle for a seventh-place finish. 

Kurt Busch will have extra time to bask in his victory as the Monster Energy circuit will take next week off. The drivers will be back on the track in prime time in two weeks at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles Southern 500.