MADISON, Ill. — Kyle Busch held off Denny Hamlin through a series of late restarts to win the chaotic, caution-filled NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside of St. Louis on Sunday.
Bubba Wallace brought out the 11th and final yellow when his brake rotor let go with five laps remaining. There also were two red flags to go with a two-hour weather delay that caused the mid-afternoon race to finish in the twilight.
With the floodlights coming on around the speedway, Busch got a big push from Denny Hamlin on the final restart — the fifth over the last 40-some laps — and pulled away for his third win of the season for Richard Childress Racing.
“Our short-track stuff has been a struggle this year. We knew we really wanted to come out here and set a focus on running at a shorter track,” said Busch, whose other wins this year came at Talladega and Auto Club Speedway in California.
“I felt like this was a good precursor to what we have coming for the rest of the year,” Busch said.
The win was especially gratifying for Busch’s crew chief, Randall Burnett, who not only produced a car fast enough to win the pole in his hometown but also made all the right calls on Sunday. Burnett hails from nearby Fenton, Missouri, and had plenty of friends and family in a sellout crowd of about 60,000 on a brutally hot early summer day.
Hamlin finished second while Joey Logano, the winner a year ago in the Cup Series debut at the track, got around Kyle Larson on the final lap for third. Martin Truex Jr. finished ahead of Ryan Blaney, last week’s winner at Charlotte, to round out the top five.
“Long day for sure,” Logano said after climbing out of his car. “There were four or five cars that were just better than us. We made some good adjustments at the end and we were in the hunt.”
It was a long day for Corey LaJoie, who filled in for Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports and spent most of the day near the back before finishing 21st. Elliott was suspended for the race for intentionally wrecking Hamlin last week.
It also was a long day for everyone on pit stands. There were some technical issues that not only prevented them from having communication with teams back at their shops but also limited the amount of data that they were able to see.
“It was interesting for sure,” Truex said. “It was just an uphill climb, really tough to get through the field.”
The series heads next Sunday to the road course in Sonoma, California. Daniel Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he dominated the final stage to win the race a year ago.