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Kurt Busch gets first win of 2022 at Kansas

Kurt Busch has his first win of 2022 and now has wins with four different car manufacturers.

Busch passed Kyle Larson with eight laps to go to win at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and clinch a spot in the Cup Series playoffs. The win stops a free fall in the standings for Busch after he had dropped from fifth in the standings after the first five races of the season to 21st entering the 13th race of the year at Kansas.

The victory is Busch’s 34th overall and first in a Toyota in the Cup Series. He got his first career win in a Ford for Roush Racing in 2002 at Bristol, won his first race in a Dodge at Bristol in 2006 for Team Penske and then won at Martinsville in 2014 in a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Larson got into the wall when Busch was passing him for the lead and it was at least the third time he had hit the wall during the course of the race. Larson hit the wall at least two times previously — including a bump that saved him from a spin while he was racing Busch for the lead — and was able to stay near the front of the field thanks to the durability of the new composite bodies on Cup Series cars.

Larson joked after the race that his Hendrick Motorsports team built him a “war machine.”

“I hit the wall a lot today,” Larson said.

Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Jordan Brand Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch finished third and 23XI Racing team co-owner Denny Hamlin was fourth ahead of his teammate Christopher Bell. 23XI Racing hired Kurt Busch ahead of the 2022 season after Chip Ganassi Racing sold its assets to Trackhouse Racing.

The win is 23XI’s second win after Bubba Wallace won at Talladega in the fall of 2021. The team expanded to two cars to add Busch in 2022 and he ran a paint scheme for co-owner Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand on Sunday.

Hamlin said after the race that he was jealous Busch got to drive a Jordan Brand car.

Busch led five times for a race-high 116 laps. Both he and Wallace had serious speed throughout the race and Wallace rebounded to finish 10th after he lost fifth place on the final round of pit stops because of an issue on pit road.

Toyota cars finished in five of the top six spots and all six Toyotas finished in the top 10. Chevrolets took the other four spots in the top 10 as the highest-finishing Ford was Austin Cindric in 11th.

Tire issues plague race

Teams struggled with the reliability of left-rear tires throughout race weekend. Multiple cars had problems on Saturday and both Bell and William Byron had flat left-rear tires while leading. Chase Elliott and Truex also had left-rear tire issues during Sunday’s race as the new cars clearly put more stress on the tires on that quadrant of the car.

Goodyear is bringing the same type of tires to next week’s All-Star Race at Texas. While the segments in the All-Star Race are typically much shorter than a normal race, tire reliability will be a big question ahead of the non-points event next Sunday.

While the tire troubles were an unneeded variable throughout the race, the racing itself was fairly even — especially as Bell and Byron had to cede track position because of their tire issues. The high groove at the progressive-banked track was clearly the preferred line as tires wore out as lapped cars stayed low for the leaders over the second half of the race.

Race results

1. Kurt Busch

2. Kyle Larson

3. Kyle Busch

4. Denny Hamlin

5. Christopher Bell

6. Martin Truex Jr.

7. Ross Chastain

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

9. Alex Bowman

10. Bubba Wallace

11. Austin Cindric

12. Ryan Blaney

13. Austin Dillon

14. Brad Keselowski

15. Kevin Harvick

16. William Byron

17. Joey Logano

18. Noah Grayson

19. Corey LaJoie

20. Ty Dillon

21. Harrison Burton

22. Cole Custer

23. Michael McDowell

24. Chase Briscoe

25. Todd Gilliland

26. Aric Almirola

27. Chris Buescher

28. Josh Bilicki

29. Chase Elliott

30. Tyler Reddick

31. JJ Yeley

32. Erik Jones

33. Daniel Suarez

34. Cody Ware

35. Justin Haley

36. BJ McLeod