Kyle Busch wins at Martinsville, secures spot in final four
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—With most of the field wrecking behind him, Kyle Busch took the lead on the final lap and won the First Data 500 on Sunday, Oct. 29, at Martinsville Speedway.
It was his fifth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and clinched a position among the Championship Four at the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19.
Busch led a race-high 183 laps.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second, Clint Bowyer was third, Brad Keselowski took fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
Keselowski and Chase Elliott raced for the lead on a restart inside the final 10 laps. After contact between the two drivers, Elliott took the lead. Denny Hamlin moved into second and made contact with Elliott, resulting in an Elliott spin and Hamlin taking the lead.
Elliott's spin brought out the 11th and final caution flag of the race and an overtime restart.
On the final lap, Busch took the lead and Hamlin was among the drivers involved in the crash at race's end.
Elliott led for the first time after a pass against Busch on Lap 324. Elliott lost the lead temporarily when Keselowski and Busch beat him off pit road during a Lap 360 caution. Elliott, though, retook the lead on Lap 385.
Keselowski won both of the 130-lap stages that made up the first 260 laps of the 500-lap race.
Keselowski and Team Penske teammate and pole-sitter Joey Logano combined to lead all of the laps until Jimmie Johnson inherited the lead through pit strategy during a Lap 87 caution.
Johnson started in the back and pitted from 18th during the previous caution on Lap 62. Johnson, along with seven other drivers, stayed out when most of the rest of the race field pitted under the next yellow flag.
Keselowski, though, on new tires, quickly got back up to the front, retaking the lead from Johnson on Lap 114. Johnson then lost additional positions.
Busch got out of the pits first during the caution between the first two stages and led nearly the entire second stage, but Keselowski was able to pass him inside the final three laps of the stage for another stage win.
Busch, though, got off pit road first during the caution that separated the second stage for the third to retake the lead.
After serving a pit-road speeding penalty at the end of the opening stage, Hamlin was the only playoff driver not in the top 10 at the end of the second stage. He was inside the top 15, though, barely hanging on to the end of the lead lap.
Harvick was the only playoff driver not in the top 10 at the end of the first stage.
NOTES: Reigning and seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville Speedway, including last year's First Data 500. That ties him with Jeff Gordon for third on the Martinsville wins list. ... Brad Keselowski won the most recent race at Martinsville Speedway in April. ... Hendrick Motorsports won the last five fall races at Martinsville. ... Johnson qualified 24th after wheel-hopping and spinning in round two of qualifying earlier in the day, but he started in the back after his team made a gear change. Erik Jones also started in the back in a backup car after a wreck in one of the Saturday practice sessions. Austin Dillon and Paul Menard started in the back after unapproved adjustments to their cars. ... Pole-sitter Joey Logano was fastest in final practice Saturday and led all three rounds of qualifying. Denny Hamlin was fastest in the first practice.