NASCAR Barometer: Busch Banishes Bad Luck

NASCAR Barometer: Busch Banishes Bad Luck

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

Kansas Speedway has been Kyle Busch's nemesis track throughout his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, but those bad times were vanquished Saturday night in the Go Bowling 400. Busch led 69 of the 267 laps and held off second-place Kevin Harvick in the final miles to score his first win at the track. The Joe Gibbs Racing satellite team of Martin Truex Jr. thoroughly dominated the first 200 laps but got into trouble on a late pit stop, which made Busch's run to the finish that much easier.

The win was Busch's third of the season and his fourth top-two finish in the last six races. There isn't a hotter driver on the Sprint Cup circuit at the moment, and that will be important for fantasy fans to remember as the series heads to Dover for a Sunday afternoon race this coming weekend.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch didn't have the dominant car Saturday night, but he walked away with a win on a track that has vexed him in the past by holding off Kevin Harvick in the closing laps. The task of winning was made a bit easier when dominant Martin Truex Jr. fell from contention, and Busch was there to sweep up the pieces. It was his first win at Kansas, which could go a long way to exercising the demons that have plagued him at the track. The momentum from last week could propel Busch even further ahead this week at Dover, where he has two previous

Kansas Speedway has been Kyle Busch's nemesis track throughout his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, but those bad times were vanquished Saturday night in the Go Bowling 400. Busch led 69 of the 267 laps and held off second-place Kevin Harvick in the final miles to score his first win at the track. The Joe Gibbs Racing satellite team of Martin Truex Jr. thoroughly dominated the first 200 laps but got into trouble on a late pit stop, which made Busch's run to the finish that much easier.

The win was Busch's third of the season and his fourth top-two finish in the last six races. There isn't a hotter driver on the Sprint Cup circuit at the moment, and that will be important for fantasy fans to remember as the series heads to Dover for a Sunday afternoon race this coming weekend.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch didn't have the dominant car Saturday night, but he walked away with a win on a track that has vexed him in the past by holding off Kevin Harvick in the closing laps. The task of winning was made a bit easier when dominant Martin Truex Jr. fell from contention, and Busch was there to sweep up the pieces. It was his first win at Kansas, which could go a long way to exercising the demons that have plagued him at the track. The momentum from last week could propel Busch even further ahead this week at Dover, where he has two previous victories. He usually finishes in the top-10 there when he doesn't encounter trouble, and he has three top-10s in the last five races at the track.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex was the car to beat last week at Kansas, leading 172 laps of Saturday's race. The No. 78 started from pole and jetted out front at the green flag to lead the most laps early in Saturday's race. A lug nut problem later in the race forced him to pit twice before returning to action, which put him a lap down to the leaders and effectively ended any chance he had of scoring a win. It was a bitterly disappointing circumstance for the driver who clearly had the dominant car of the race Saturday night. Truex won at Dover in 2007 and has three top-10 finishes there in the last five races.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth drove a fast, smooth race Saturday to run inside the top five all night with a mistake-free performance. Saturday night's fourth-place finish could signal that the team has finally overcome bad luck that has been all over them like a cheap suit so far in 2016. With four top-10 Dover finishes in the last five races, he could add another victory to his 2006 and 2011 wins at the track. A win would give the team some comfort as they work to ensure that the nagging problems plaguing their season are fully eradicated before the championship run in.

Ryan Blaney – Blaney is consistently checking off top finishes with the Wood Brothers Racing team. The season has been a dream for the veteran outfit making its return to full-time racing in 2016. Keep in mind that Blaney isn't necessarily guaranteed a starting spot due to the team not having one of NASCAR's charters, but they are punching well above their weight. Blaney's fifth-place finish from Saturday night was his first of the season and his fourth top-10 from the 11 races thus far. Blaney is knocking on the door of a victory in his rookie season, which would be a significant accomplishment. He has no Sprint Cup experience at Dover but can claim one top-10 finish there in the Xfinity series.

DOWNGRADE

Carl Edwards – Saturday night in Kansas didn't exactly get started the way Edwards wanted. A flat rear tire caused havoc for the No. 19 before 100 laps were complete, and pitting under green to make repairs dropped him two laps from the leaders and outside of the top 30. He eventually made his way back to the lead lap and came forward to finish 11th at the end of the distance. His wins mean that he can withstand an off night here or there, but there's no better medicine for momentum than winning, and Saturday night was a tough one. Edwards has one Dover win from 23 starts but hasn't finished inside the top 10 there for the last six races.

Paul Menard – Kansas should have been a track where Menard resurrected his hopes of a strong start to the 2016 season, but a spin and contact with the wall prematurely ended those hopes. He brought out the caution flag and had to replace his damaged tires and fix the dented bodywork, but it was all for naught when he called it a day and walked away with a last-place finish. The season has been a rough one so far, and Menard's prospects don't look any better next week at Dover either. The No. 27 has never scored a top-five at the track and only has three top-10 finishes from 17 starts. Two of those top finishes came in the last four races, however.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin made his race Saturday even more difficult than necessary. He picked up two speeding penalties, which forced him to fight his way back forward multiple times. Mistakes break races for drivers, and Hamlin tops the season with six penalties for speeding in the pits. Those mistakes must be eradicated before the end of the season arrives and the Chase begins. After all of that, his day was officially over after a three-wide crash late in the race. Hamlin has never won at Dover and scored just one top-five finish in his last five races at the track, but did lead 118 laps en route to a 21st-place finish after starting on the pole in this race last season.

Joey Logano – Logano had the misfortune of being behind the spinning Hamlin and Brad Keselowski late in Saturday's race. He had a machine capable of racing inside the top five at the time but smashed into Hamlin and out of Saturday's race. He's still searching for that elusive 2016 win. Logano is another driver who has never won at Dover, but he has had some decent results in the past. This could be a good week for him to rebuild confidence. He hasn't finished worse than 11th in the last eight Dover races, and another top-10 could be a significant boost to his hopes of bagging an all-important win to secure a spot in the Chase.

Kyle Larson – Larson was another driver who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time late in Saturday night's race. He was racing at the front of the field all night Saturday but received damage from the Hamlin spin. It was too much for the team to overcome despite the damage not being severe. Unfortunately, Larson drifted into the back of pack after the slight contact. After the 400 miles were complete, Larson had slipped to 35th from what should have been a confident top-10 finish. Fantasy owners should be interested to see how Larson responds to the disappointment next week at a track where he hasn't finished lower than 11th in four career starts.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

A.J. Allmendinger – Allmendinger had another race to remember in Kansas. His eighth-place finish was born of a mistake-free night and gives him three top-10 finishes in the 11 races so far this season. Allmendinger now ranks 15th in points, 10 clear of the final Chase spot of 16th. His last top-10 finish came in Martinsville where he scored a runner-up to Kyle Busch. Continued results like these through the remainder of the season will not only give Allmendinger opportunities to win races to guarantee himself a spot in the Chase, but could hold him in contention to make the playoff format on points alone. That's no easy feat, but this small JTG Daugherty Racing team appears up to the challenge this season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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