Kyle Busch wins Stage 1 at Bristol with last-lap pass on Larson
Kyle Busch scored his 10th stage win in 2017 with a bump-and-run on Kyle Larson on the final circuit of the first segment at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Polesitter Erik Jones was second followed by Larson, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., and Jimmie Johnson.
Jones shot out to a two-car lead on the first lap as Chase Elliott shot up to second. Larson boxed in the No. 78 to moved up to third on Lap 3, but wiggled coming through Turn 3 on the sticky stuff.
Elliott took the lead on Lap 4 but Jones regained the point as Brad Keselowski suffered flat tires and was forced to pit on Lap 5.
By Lap 10, Jones held the lead by Larson, Kenseth, Elliott, Truex, Logano, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Blaney and Clint Bowyer. Keselowski returned to the field in 40th-place, four laps down. Jones lapped Joey Gase after 13 laps. Keselowski got a lap back from Jones on fresh tires on Lap 17.
Jones held a .390-second lead after 20 laps followed by Kenseth, Elliott, Larson, Truex, Logano, Suarez, Stenhouse, Blaney and Bowyer.
Jones lapped six cars in the first 25 laps, but Kenseth closed in on the No. 77 car in traffic.
Thirty laps in, 32 cars remained on the lead lap with Jones at the point followed by Kenseth, Elliott, Larson, Truex, Logano, Stenhouse, Blaney, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.
Five laps later, Hamlin was 11th followed by Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray. Johnson passed Bowyer for 12th on Lap 36.
Jones’ advantage over Kenseth at Lap 40 was a half-second. Larson moved up to third followed by Elliott and Truex. Johnson advanced to 11th. Larson passed Kenseth for second on Lap 46. Elliott followed and passed Kenseth for third on Lap 48.
Larson cruised by Jones for the lead on Lap 51. Elliott passed Jones on Lap 58. Two laps later, Aric Almirola hit the wall in Turn 2 to bring out the first Caution.
Larson held the point for 10 laps. Elliott, Jones, Truex, Logano, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Hamlin, Stenhouse and Johnson rounded out the top 10. Kenseth dropped to 11th followed by Suarez, Bowyer, Newman, Bayne, Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, and Kurt Busch.
The leaders pitted on Lap 63. Larson retained the lead out of the pits. The race returned to green on Lap 68 followed by Jones, Truex, Elliott, Logano, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Hamlin, Johnson, Kenseth, Suarez, Newman, Bowyer, Stenhouse and Bayne. Elliott moved up to second on the restart. Jones fell to third followed by Busch and Kesneth. By Lap 75, Hamlin was sixth with Logano, Blaney, Truex and Newman rounding out the top 10.
After 85 laps, Larson’s lead was 1.747-seconds over Elliott. Jones, Busch, Kenseth, Hamlin, Blaney, Logano, Truex and Newman completed the top 10. Kyle Busch used the top line to close in on Jones for third. He completed the pass on Lap 90 — at the line. Johnson ran 11th followed by Stenhouse, Bowyer, Harvick, McMurray, Kurt Busch, Suarez, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bayne and Austin Dillon.
Kyle Busch caught and passed Elliott on Lap 94 for second — and allowed Larson to stretch on his lead by two-seconds. Kurt Busch moved into the top 15 and passed his teammate Bowyer for 14th.
With 20 laps remaining, Larson’s lead was 1.078-seconds followed by Kyle Busch, Elliott, Jones Kenseth, Hamlin, Blaney, Logano, Truex and Newman.
Larson and Busch ran into traffic with Busch working the high line. The drivers split the No. 2 of Keselowski on Lap 115 and Busch took the lead with 10 to go. Larson regained the lead on Lap 119 while working the high line. Busch made the cross over then moved inside for the lead only to have Larson pass him at the line. On Lap 125, Busch used the bumper on Larson for the lead out of Turn 2.
There were 27 cars remaining on the lead lap. Larson’s 70 laps were the most led.
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