Kurt Busch Dominates Toyota Owners 400
Having been postponed because of heavy rain on Saturday, the Toyota Owners 400 event began on time at 1:00pm ET on Sunday. Before the race, a moment of silence was being held in honor of late and beloved Steve Byrnes. The race itself started around 1:15pm ET with Joey Logano on pole, his third this season. On lap 6, Danica Patrick suffered some damage to her car when she was bumped by Casey Mears, but made a great save to stay in the race. Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick were following Logano, but the young driver managed to hold onto the lead even after lap 52 and first scheduled pit stops. In the first quarter of the race Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. made great progress.
Logano eventually lost lead on lap 95 when Kurt Busch overtook him and started pulling away immediately. Pretty soon Logano dropped to fifth, giving way to Harvick, Kenseth and Truex Jr. Clint Bowyer went to fifth after passing Logano on lap 115 and Gordon went to sixth after overtaking the young Team Penske driver. Logano and Keselowski thus went to seventh and eighth. On lap 127, yellow flag flew when Aric Almirola and Joey Gase bumped, which made Gase slide, almost swiping Danica Patrick. While Busch was in the pits, Harvick had a lead for one lap only, while Patrick didn’t get to evade damage to her car because she was rear ended in the pit lane by Clint Bowyer. The race restarted on lap 137, but the third caution went immediately after restart because Josh Wise stalled his 98 Ford on track. After a quick yellow, the race restarted on lap 144. Denny Hamlin, who started the race on second went down to the twenties.
Wise eventually returned to the race on lap 161 only to cause the fourth caution flag after his car went up in flames. While the cars were in the pits, Harvick went to the leading position for a lap, but Busch returned to the first position while Logano jumped to third. Keselowski, Truex and Gordon were fourth to sixth. The race restarted on lap 171, and Logano lost the third and fourth to Keselowski who jumped to second by overtaking Harvick and Truex Jr. Meanwhile, Jamie McMurray returned to top 10 with tenth, and soon progressed to eighth. While Keselowski was attacking Busch, nothing changed on the very top, but McMurray was so determined in his progress that he soon overtook Harvick and Truex Jr. to get to third position.
Keselowski couldn’t hold off McMurray and had to give way to him. That way, Jamie aimed at Kurt Busch and took the lead on lap 262. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski reported his car working on seven cylinders. With most of the cars in the pits, Keselowski had the lead from lap 270 when the fifth caution went down when Brett Moffitt hit the wall and punctured his tire. Kurt Busch returned to second in front of Jamie McMurray and Justin Allgaier. Keselowski’s car turned out to be working properly even with one cylinder down, so he was back in the game. The race restarted on lap 279 with Allgaier overtaking Keselowski and attacking Busch. McMurray reclaimed the second place on lap 316, and Keselowski also overtook Allgaier, going to third. Jimmie Johnson climbed to fourth, making progress quite similar to McMurray’s.
The sixth caution went down for debris with 50 laps to go. With pit lane open, Kurt Busch didn’t lose his position, with McMurray, Johnson, Keselowski, Harvick and Gordon behind him in said order. The race restarted with 42 laps to go, but yellow went down on 41 to go when Tony Stewart punctured his tire and lost control after making contact with Dale Jr. Luckily, no other cars suffered any damage, but Stewart was out of the race. After the restart Gordon made a controversial block on Logano. An another caution was out on the same lap when Jeb Burton was spun out by Sam Hornish. Again, no other cars suffered damage and Danica Patrick had one more close call. With 26 laps to go, the race restarted and McMurray and Johnson were still on Busch’s tail. Harvick soon overtook Johnson and McMurray, climbing to second. Keselowski went down to place seventeen, which was not surprising concerning his engine issue.
— Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) April 26, 2015
In an exciting green flag finish, Kevin Harvick was closing down on Kurt Busch, but the leader managed to extend the gap to one second and win for the 26th time in his career and first time in 2015, breaking his personal record with 291 laps lead. Behind him were Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray. Pole position winner Joey Logano was in fifth. After a short track tour, Talladega is next on the calendar, and we’ll see what will happen in the fastest track in the US!