Bubba Wallace captured the second consecutive win at Kansas Speedway for 23XI Racing, charging through the field and holding off rival driver Denny Hamlin, who is also his boss as co-owner, with Michael Jordan, of Wallace’s racing team.
Kurt Busch drove the number 45 Toyota to victory in May, and Wallace has taken over the ride to finish the year as Busch recovers from a concussion.
The win is the second of Wallace’s career, but the first full-distance win, the previous being the rain-shortened Talladega 500 in 2021.
After the race, Wallace talked about the meaning of the accomplishment.
“I think it’s incredible,” the six-year NASCAR Cup veteran said. “Winning at this level is the hardest thing in life for us race car drivers.”
“To be able to say we’re winners today here at Kansas through the year that we’ve had and what we’ve been able to do the last couple of months, is incredible.”
Alex Bowman won stage 1 of the race, and Christopher Bell took stage 2. Playoff contenders Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick were both knocked out of the race, complicating their chances in advancing to the next round.
Taking place on the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the pre-race festivities had a patriotic flair and included musical performances from Lee Greenwood and Craig Morgan, along with the swearing in of a large group of new military enlistees, who received a large ovation from the crowd.
The NASCAR Cup playoffs continue next week at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway. Though Wallace is not in playoff contention, the 23XI team continues to race for the owner’s championship.
Kurt Busch used a family connection and then a sly move to take the lead in the AdventHealth 400 with eight laps remaining. The veteran driver went on to take the checkered flag, his 34th win but only the first with 23XI Racing, a new team started last year by co-owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.
Though Busch led at the end of stage 2, a slow pit stop under caution on lap 234 dropped him into third place behind his brother Kyle Busch, with Kyle Larson in the lead.
After Kyle Busch made an attempt to pass Larson and conceded his car didn’t have enough pace, he let Kurt move up to second and try his luck.
Kurt had taken the measure of Larson on a earlier pass and was sheltering his tires for a late-race move. Judging that Larson would be weakest at turn 2, he made his move there and had the speed and grip to make it stick.
Once in clean air, Busch’s Toyota was at its strongest and got well clear of Larson by the last lap.
As Busch described it afterwards, “It all unfolded perfectly where I was able to make the move and not lose momentum and break the draft and bring our Toyota home to victory lane.”
Larson finished second. Kyle Busch finished third and won stage 1. Denny Hamlin finished fourth, and Christopher Bell, who qualified with the fastest time, led 37 laps and finished fifth.
Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner was in attendance and reflected on the event before the race.
“This is awesome, having people from all over the country come and converge on Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. It really highlights how awesome our community is,” the mayor said.
“Really, you couldn’t ask for a better venue, when you talk about NASCAR and the longstanding partnership Wyandotte County’s had.”
“I’m optimistic about the future,” Garner added. “This is a good example of the value of positive partnerships we have with entities such as NASCAR.”
NASCAR racing returns to Kansas Speedway with the Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 on Sept. 10 and the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 on Sept. 11.
Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway, fending off Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch in a single-lap restart, needed after a wreck on a previous restart.
After the race, Hamlin credited crew chief Chris Gabeheart for making adjustments to give him a “dominant car” in the second half of the race. Hamlin overtook Martin Truex Jr. shortly after the end of the race’s second stage in lap 160.
Hamlin also credited Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch with a well-timed push on the restart that positioned him to get out in front of the field and protect his lead.
Chase Elliott finished second, earning just enough points to edge Brad Keselowski for the final spot to advance in the NASCAR playoffs. Kyle Busch finished third.