Kurt Busch dominated Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway to take 23XI Racing back to victory lane and the first for their partnership.
Busch led a race-high 116 laps and made the winning pass on Kyle Larson with eight laps to go, first taking a look underneath Larson in Turns 1 and 2 with nine to go. The duo battled side-by-side for a lap before Busch could clear Larson when the Hendrick car caught the wall, running tight on the outside.
Busch ran third off the race’s final restart with 33 laps to go, passed brother Kyle with 22 to go and then began stalking Larson.
“It’s all about teamwork — I don’t do this alone,” Busch said. “The way that Toyota has helped us; my little brother has been so important just on the family side. Hey, you got to get through these steps. Bubba is a great teammate. This is our first win for the No. 45 car and with Jordan Brand on the hood. I felt like I had to play like the GOAT, race like the GOAT, and I had to beat the Kyles. I beat both.
“If I can get one Kyle, I can get both. I just had to have the confidence to know. Our setups would do things on short runs and long runs. Thanks to Jordan Brand, Toyota, Monster Energy, McDonald’s, MoneyLion. All the team partners of 23XI. This No. 45 car is a winner now.”
Larson said there was no contact with Busch before he hit the wall, but after the contact he was unable to mount another charge on Busch and fell over a second behind him at the finish.
“We were racing for the win there,” Larson said after leading 29 laps. “He never got into me. I was trying to squeeze throttle to get position on him and just got tight. That was fun racing with Kurt. The last half of the race—I was trying hard the whole time. I about spun out in front of him at some point in the third stage. We just kept fighting through it.
“Thanks to my team for building me a war machine. I hit the wall a lot today and just struggled. People could put air on me and get me really tight and then I’d hit the wall. We’ll work on that and figure it out.”
Kyle Busch finished third after winning the first stage. He led 18 lapses.
Denny Hamlin finished fourth and Christopher Bell finished fifth. Bell led 37 laps from the pole and rebounded from a flat left-rear tire while leading under caution on lap 62.
Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth, Ross Chastain seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. eighth, Alex bowman ninth and Bubba Wallace completed the top 10.
Wallace drove back to 10th after an uncontrolled tire during yellow flag pit stops (after coming down pit road fifth) with 71 laps to go.
There were 18 lead changes among 10 drivers and eight cautions in the AdventHealth 400.
The victory is the 34th of Busch’s NASCAR Cup Series career and he has now won driving for four different manufacturers – Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, and Toyota.
“It’s the most gratifying to work from the ground up with a brand new car number,” Busch said. “Yes, I’ve been with a lot of teams; a lot of manufacturers. Now this checks off the Toyota box, but it’s about family. I love my family at home, I love my KBI employees and everyone at 23XI; this is for us. This is what the hard work is all about, no matter if you lose a couple of spots on pit road, no matter if our car was a basket of whatever to start.”