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The Journal Gazette

Monday, September 25, 2017 1:00 am

Kyle Busch survives wreck, wins

DAN GELSTON | Associated Press

Top 5

Finishers

1. Ky. Busch Toyota

2. Larson Chevrolet

3. Kenseth Toyota

4. Keselowski Ford

5. Truex Jr. Toyota

Points

1. Truex 2,149

2. Larson 2,125

3. Ky.Busch 2,119

4. Keselowski 2,106

5. Hamlin 2,088

LOUDON, N.H. – Kyle Busch saw little but billowing white smoke that engulfed the track and blinded enough drivers that it caused a tremendous wreck that sunk his toughest competition.

In his No. 18 Toyota, the driver nicknamed “Rowdy” knew there was only one way to handle the sudden pollution: Drive through it!

Busch slinked through the smoke clouds formed in the multi-car crash on the backstretch and dominated the rest of the way to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motorspeedway.

“That was pretty intense,” Busch said. “That was some 'Days of Thunder' stuff over there. You couldn't see anything.”

He held on and saw a victory lane celebration for the third time this season. Busch earned a berth in the second round of NASCAR's playoffs and took his customary bow on the track. He even stuck a bag of M&M's on the claws of Loudon the Lobster, the 18-pound crustacean given to the race winner.

Busch, who won from the pole, put together a complete effort once the wreck derailed race leader and fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. Truex, who won the playoff opener at Chicagoland, and Busch both earned automatic spots in the second round. Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski advanced on points.

Truex led 112 laps until his run ended in the accident, although he rallied to finish fifth.

The playoff standings were shaken up in the wake of the massive multi-car wreck that sent playoff drivers Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to the garage. Harvick's car was hit by Austin Dillon on the last lap of the second stage. Harvick spun and smoke billowed over the track, leaving drivers almost blinded to the traffic ahead. Busch, Harvick's teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, slammed into Harvick. Truex backed up to straighten himself out and instead suffered left-rear damage when he smacked another car.

Kurt Busch, the Daytona 500 champion, will likely have to win next week at Dover to advance to the second round.

“It's all-in. We'll go there with everything we've got like we have been,” he said.

Harvick, the 2014 series champion, had accumulated enough playoff points that one DNF shouldn't cost him a spot in the top 12.

“I couldn't really tell where I was with all the smoke and everything that was happening, but just got hit from behind and spun out,” Harvick said.

Playoff drivers filled the top five spots: Larson was second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Keselowski and Truex.

“We had damage and had to fight from the back of the pack the rest of the day,” Truex said.

Kyle Busch, who had his shot at victory at Chicagoland end because of pit road miscues, survived the wreckage to lead 187 laps and showed that Joe Gibbs Racing will be a player in the postseason. He found the opening between the wall and Harvick and won his 41st Cup race.