(WOMR file photo)
Check the boxes, sip the wine, take a bow, wave the checkered flag, Kyle Busch has won a Sprint Cup race just five races into his return from the disasterous XFINITY Series crash to begin this season at Daytona.
That simple statement hardly plumbs the depth of emotion Kyle Busch was feeling after winning Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Guess everybody can consider Kyle Busch’s recovery from the serious leg injuries he suffered during Speedweeks in February to be complete – if not in a physical sense then certainly in a competitive sense.
Busch, who missed the first 11 Sprint Cup races of the season because of injuries sustained in the XFINITY Series, won for the first time in 2015 on Sunday and he did it on the Sonoma Raceway road course yet!
In the first-ever 1-2 finish in the series by the Busch brothers, Kyle Busch beat Kurt Busch to the finish line by .532 seconds to win for the first time since returning from an 11-race absence because of a broken right leg and left foot sustained in a Feb. 21 accident at Daytona International Speedway.
“First Busch brothers 1-2, boys,” Kyle Busch exulted on his radio after taking the checkered flag. “Mom and Dad should be proud.”
Let’s rewind to beginning of the race weekend:
After two practice sessions on Friday at Sonoma Raceway, Kyle spent an evening icing his surgically repaired left foot. He repeated that same procedure on Saturday night, all in the effort to minimize pain and give himself the best possible chance to pick up the much-needed victory on the road course.
Sonoma is just five races into KyBu’s return to racing from a compound fracture in his right leg, and a fractured left foot. Nevertheless, The Shrub made his way to victory lane, on foot after “burning it down with doughnuts” I may add, to continue what already has been an impressive comeback!
On Lap 106 of 110, Kyle Busch muscled Jimmie Johnson out of the way and took the lead on the way to his second victory at the 1.99-mile road course and the 30th of his career. Johnson had stayed out on old tires while Busch joined a parade to pit road for new rubber after the left rear wheel assembly separated from Casey Mears Chevrolet to cause the fifth and final caution of the race on Lap 99.
Johnson led the field to a restart on Lap 104, but the cars with fresh tires soon asserted their superiority, with Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano all following Kyle Busch in putting the six-time champion behind them.
Kyle Busch restarted seventh and got past Bowyer, the eventual third-place finisher, soon thereafter in heavy traffic at the top of the hill in Turn 2. Two laps later, he passed Johnson for the lead.
The triumph gives Busch the first element he needs to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Busch also must finish in the top 30 in the series standings after 26 races in order to maintain his eligibility for NASCAR’s playoff. For Kyle to make it into The Chase he has the required win under his belt, however the trail to making it into the top 30 in points in the remaining ten races will be much more challenging and could be littered with foxholes, landmines, and a few crumpled piles of sheetmetal to try to manuever around and through! It will be very interesting to see the remaining trials and tribulations that are in store for the JGR #18 Toyota over the next few weeks.
Check out the unofficial results of the Toyota/SaveMart 350(k).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!