Kurt Busch wins at Las Vegas

Kurt Busch is advancing to the third round of the NASCAR playoffs. Busch got some

Kurt Busch is advancing to the third round of the NASCAR playoffs.

Busch got some track position help thanks to a caution in the middle of green-flag pit stops with 32 scheduled laps to go and then held onto the lead for two more restarts for a win in his hometown of Las Vegas and an automatic berth in the third round.

Busch inherited the lead after Jimmie Johnson had a flat tire because he hadn’t pitted yet. Since the drivers ahead of Busch had hit pit road for what they hoped would be their final pit stops before the caution came out, Busch was able to pit under caution and restart first after he was the first driver off pit road.

The 2004 champion said that winning at his hometown track was something that he’d been dreaming of. Busch had never won at Vegas until Sunday night. And he did it by being phenomenal on the final two restarts.

A case could be made that Matt DiBenedetto had a better car than Busch did. But Busch immediately and decisively got the lead on the final two restarts of the race and never let DiBenedetto have a chance at challenging him for the lead.

DiBenedetto finished second, while Denny Hamlin finished third. Hamlin had the best car throughout the entirety of the race but was one of the drivers who had pitted before that caution during pit stops. He was forced to make up ground throughout the final 25 laps of the race and almost got himself into position to challenge Busch.

The win is the 32nd of Busch’s career and means that he’ll be one of the eight drivers racing for the four championship-eligible spots in the third round. Busch made the playoffs via points without a win in the regular season and his results had tailed off as the season went on.

Sunday’s race was the 30th race of the year. Busch had scored 12 top-10 finishes in the first 20 races of the season, and the victory was just his fourth top-10 finish in the last 10 races. It was also his first top-five finish since he was fifth at Kentucky in early July.

Kurt Busch scored his first win at his hometown track. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Logano finishes 14th after contact with Kyle Busch

Joey Logano ended up with a top-15 finish after he spent much of the final half of the race a lap down after contact with Kyle Busch.

Busch and Logano made contact while racing for the lead early in the second stage. Logano was forced to pit under green and lost a lap to fix the damage and change tires. He didn’t get that lap back until John Hunter Nemechek went spinning because of a tire issue with less than 20 laps to go.

Busch’s car also sustained damage during the race, but he ended up much better off. Busch finished sixth thanks to those late-race restarts.

Playoff standings

The gap between Denny Hamlin in third and Brad Keselowski in fourth is larger than the gap between Keselowski and Austin Dillon in 12th. Dillon had a good race going before a pit road penalty and then an issue with the belts in his car’s engine. He ended up finishing 32nd.

The top eight drivers advance to the third round. As of now, Kyle Busch is nine points outside the third round.

1. Kurt Busch (win at Vegas)

2. Kevin Harvick, 3,104 points

3. Denny Hamlin, 3,101

4. Brad Keselowski, 3,059

5. Martin Truex Jr., 3,058

6. Joey Logano, 3,054

7. Chase Elliott, 3,053

8. Alex Bowman, 3,052

9. Kyle Busch, 3,043

10. Clint Bowyer, 3,032

11. Aric Almirola, 3,025

12. Austin Dillon, 3,020

Race results

1. Kurt Busch

2. Matt DiBenedetto

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Martin Truex Jr.

5. Alex Bowman

6. Kyle Busch

7. Ryan Blaney

8. Erik Jones

9. Chris Buescher

10. Kevin Harvick

11. Jimmie Johnson

12. Clint Bowyer

13. Brad Keselowski

14. Joey Logano

15. Ryan Newman

16. Cole Custer

17. Aric Almirola

18. Matt Kenseth

19. Ryan Preece

20. John Hunter Nemechek

21. Michael McDowell

22. Chase Elliott

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24. Christopher Bell

25. William Byron

26. Ty Dillon

27. Corey LaJoie

28. Bubba Wallace

29. Daniel Suarez

30. Brennan Poole

31. Gray Gaulding

32. Austin Dillon

33. JJ Yeley

34. Quin Houff

35. Joey Gase

36. Josh Bilicki

37. Timmy Hill

38. Tyler Reddick

39. Chad Finchum

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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