Kurt Busch Tops Brother In Cup Series Family Duel At Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kurt Busch does a victory burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

Kurt Busch out-dueled his younger brother Kyle Busch in the pair’s fourth career 1-2 finish to secure his 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs position and take his 33rd career victory in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart.

Busch, 42, has been particularly good at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sunday’s win was his fourth there, most among the current field, and the last trophy given before the historic NASCAR track is repaved and reconfigured going forward.

More importantly Sunday’s work was a big statement for Busch, who started the race with only a 25-point buffer in the championship standings with six races left to set the 16-driver Playoffs field. Now with the win, he’s “in,” and his emotions climbing out of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 Chevrolet certainly reflected the relief and joy.

He simultaneously earned a Playoffs position and evened the score with his brother – each have won two races in the four times they have finished first and second.

“Hell yeah, we beat Kyle,’’ a smiling Kurt Busch said after climbing out of his car, putting his fists in the air and turning toward the cheering crowd in the grandstands.

“What a battle on an old-school race track,’’ said Busch, who has 33 career NASCAR Cup Series wins.

 “It’s been one of those years where I knew we were going to have our back against the wall, just above the [Playoffs] cut-off line and needed to race hard and race smart.’’

Not too surprisingly, Kyle Busch’s mood standing by his car on pit lane was markedly different than his brother’s. He felt like Kurt’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ross Chastain interfered a bit as the two brothers were fighting for the race lead while navigating lapped traffic.

Kurt led a race high 144 of the 267 laps – the most he’s led in a single race since 2015 (291 laps at Richmond, Va.) and the two each won a Stage. Kurt came out behind his brother on track when the final round of pit stops cycled out, but ultimately passed Kyle for good with 25 laps remaining and crossed the finish line 1.237 seconds ahead of his brother. Kyle was able to pull alongside Kurt with seven to go, but unable to make the pass in lapped traffic.

“I gave everything I had there early and then just smoked it behind the 42 [Chastain] obviously, shows you what kind of driver he is,’’ Kyle Busch said.  “Just trying to fight hard after that when I got passed.

“Great effort, the guys gave me a great piece,’’ Kyle continued. “The 1 (Kurt Busch) was definitely better than us today, I just thought I had him.’’

Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. finished third, rallying from a 37th place starting position. Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman was fourth followed by Penske Racing’s Ryan Blaney, who won at Atlanta this March.

Tyler Reddick, Georgia native Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Matt DiBenedetto and Brad Keselowski rounded out the Top-10.

Noticeably absent from that group is the series’ only four-race winner Kyle Larson. He ran among the top five for most of the race, but was penalized for speeding on pit road during his final pit stop. He instead finished 18th.

Championship points leader Denny Hamlin, who is still looking for his first win of 2021, finished 13th. He also was handed a pit road penalty early in the race, which was red-flagged for about 20 minutes just after the completion of Stage 2 so track workers could repair the track surface.

The series moves to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway 1-miler next week for the Foxwood Resort Casino 301 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

With five races remaining to set the 16-driver Playoffs field, 12 drivers have now earned automatic bids with a race victory. Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, who rallied to an 11th place finish Sunday, Austin Dillon and Reddick are the four highest-ranked drivers on points.

Kyle Busch (right) congratulates his brother Kurt Busch (left) after Kurt won the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 52nd Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, July 11, 2021

  1. (8)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 260.

  2. (2)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 260.

  3. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 260.

  4. (17)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 260.

  5. (15)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 260.

  6. (7)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 260.

  7. (1)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 260.

  8. (4)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 260.

  9. (12)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 260.

  10. (14)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 260.

  11. (21)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 260.

  12. (13)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 260.

  13. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 260.

  14. (24)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 260.

  15. (11)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 260.

  16. (18)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 260.

  17. (23)  Cole Custer, Ford, 260.

  18. (6)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 260.

  19. (10)  Joey Logano, Ford, 259.

  20. (19)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 259.

  21. (9)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 259.

  22. (26)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 258.

  23. (20)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 258.

  24. (22)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 258.

  25. (34)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 258.

  26. (32)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 257.

  27. (25)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 256.

  28. (29)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 256.

  29. (28)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 255.

  30. (36)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 254.

  31. (37)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 253.

  32. (33)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 253.

  33. (31)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 253.

  34. (30)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 248.

  35. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 248.

  36. (27)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 243.

  37. (16)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Suspension, 178.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  141.207 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 50 Mins, 8 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.237 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott 1-13;K. Busch 14-27;D. Hamlin 28-29;K. Busch 30-83;K. Busch 84-121;C. Custer 122;A. Almirola 123-130;*. Preece 131;K. Busch 132-212;K. Busch 213-235;K. Busch 236-260.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kurt Busch 3 times for 144 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 91 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 13 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 8 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; * Ryan Preece 1 time for 1 lap; Cole Custer 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,1,11,48,8,5,22,24,19,4

Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,18,48,5,11,8,12,2,3,19


  1. I Like Them Both. But Kyle Could Have Congratulated His Brother And Not Pout. You Think He Would Be Happy His Brother Made The Chase!!

  2. A few years ago and they would have wrecked themselves, each other, and any other car around them.

  3. I am not a fan of either one. I do not doubt their INCREDIBLE talent, but they are both spoiled brats. Escpecillay Kyle. What a cry baby

  4. Sharpie Fan says

    This ought to give Kurt a good starting spot for Loudon!

  5. Ken L,
    I always kind of chuckle when people call either of the Busch brothers “Spoiled Brats” because in a sport that has been taken over by rich families buying their way in for their kids, the Busch brothers remain as the opposite of that. They didn’t come from money. Their parents were not rich. They were a blue collar family involved in short track racing in Las Vegas when Kurt got an opportunity to try out for a Roush Racing ride and made the most of that opportunity. Kurt’s success in the sport helped to get Kyle noticed too. But to even infer that they didn’t work for where they are in racing or that their success is somehow based on being spoiled is entirely untrue.

  6. Shawn you are right. Maybe I just drop the spolied part of it. They are both petulent when things don’t go their way. Maybe spoiled was a wrong choice of word. And I agree. Too many “Richie Rich” types in the sport today. I drifted away from local racing, and embraced National aspect of the sport in the eighties. Now I just cannot watch the National level races. Kind of boring, and when I see guys racing that obviously need more “seasoning”, and I know that there are probably better drivers out there who just do not have a “daddy” with deep pockets, it just makes me shake my head. I am now fully engaged on everything short track local racing. Just wish I didn’t have to travel 2 1/2 hours to see the great racing from Stafford.

  7. Ken L, perhaps a better choice of words would have been better.

    Kurt and Kyle Busch have this supreme sense of entitlement that requires that they are to win every race, and when they don’t, they have a very tall stack of victim cards to play, and blame a very long list of other people that prevented them from winning. They don’t hold back. Don’t have to come from a wealthy family to have this profound sense of self-entitlement. Bullies don’t have to be wealthy.

    Kurt seems to be much better. I read somewhere long ago that he was required to take charm school lessons, anger management and perhaps other therapy. He’s way better than he used to be. He even smiles sometimes now.

  8. You know, I think they both put on a great show. Sure, a lot of criticism for the national series. But that aside, where mistakes are measured in 10th’s or even 100th’s of a second, the racing they did in the last 50 laps was entertaining. From the pit calls, to the timing of your teammate (the 42) being there at the right the time. All those things count.
    Correct, Kurt sure has come a long way as far as political correctness goes. But I think it’s genuine now. Remember, smoke was always one of those bad boys too.
    I like it as it shows it’s not over till it’s over. Good parity. Glass half full here guys.

  9. “in a sport that has been taken over by rich families buying their way in for their kids”
    I’ll assume you mean at the higher levels but is it not true that there are more kids driving cars that are funded by there parents at our own Stafford Speedway then ever before. Starting in the mid teens and now some being financed even well into their twenties. Is there any difference other then the racing series the kids are participating in? Is it a bad thing or the very thing that keeps motor racing alive in many series and divisions.

  10. Doug,
    I’m not saying it’s bad or good. I agree with you to some extent in that realm. A lot of people complain about checkbook kids in short track racing, but don’t look at the big picture that if not for those families in the sport the numbers would be suffering even more. I was just trying to make the point that Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch were never part of a family buying their way to the top of the sport.

  11. I Gotta Go With “The Fella” on that one, Kurt Has Changed A Lot!!

  12. I’ve always liked Kurt, and although I don’t like Kyle, I do respect his talent. Years ago when Kurt was driving for Rousch he came right out and said “If you think I’m good, wait till you see my little brother”.
    Kyle is undoubtedly the best race car driver of our time.

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