Rowdy’s Checklist Tour started off in fine style.
Kyle Busch has more wins on NASCAR’s national tour series than any driver not named Richard Petty, but Kansas Speedway had long bedeviled him.
Busch exorcised those demons Saturday by winning his 37th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and 162nd overall in NASCAR’s three national touring series during the Go Bowling 400.
Kansas Speedway was one of three racetracks Busch had never won a Cup Series race at along with Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
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No active driver has won a race at every track on the Cup circuit, but Busch – the reigning 2015 Cup champion, who is nicknamed “Rowdy” – no longer has to worry about Kansas.
Busch took the lead with 37 laps remaining, passing two-time Kansas winner Tony Stewart despite a fuel-conservation strategy.
Busch and two-time Kansas winner Matt Kenseth opted to stay out during a caution with 31 laps remaining and again five laps later after a four-car pileup, the first real melee in the 267-lap event.
Most other drivers opted to pit for tires and fuel, but that left Busch and Kenseth on the front row when the green flag dropped after that sixth caution with 19 laps left.
Kevin Harvick, who had been content to stalk the leaders, went around Kenseth with relative ease and set his sights on Busch.
Harvick never managed to overtake him as Busch became the first driver to visit Victory Lane three times during the 2016 Cup season.
Harvick finished second, followed by Kurt Busch and Kenseth, who posted his best finish of the season.
Rookie Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five with the best finish of his Cup career.
Drivers expected the new low-downforce package to create a slippery track and lots of passing, but Truex’s early race dominance – he led 172 of the first 215 laps – made things relatively uneventful.
That changed with 27 laps remaining.
Racing three-wide in turn four, Denny Hamlin tried to squeeze between Brad Keselowski in the low groove and Kyle Larson in the high groove.
Keselowski got sideways, but managed to save it.
Hamlin, who started third, wasn’t as lucky. He also slid sideways, pinning Larson into the wall and then getting T-boned by Joey Logano.
The wreck took Hamlin and Logano, who has won the last two fall races at Kansas, out of contention.
That was the only real carnage, but it wasn’t the only misfortune.
Pole-winner Martin Truex Jr. checked out on the 40-car field early, building a more than 3-second lead in the first 15 laps.
After 21 laps, Truex already had lapped two cars – Reed Sorenson and Joey Gase – and widened his lead ahead of second-place Kenseth by another second.
One lap later, the race’s first caution erased Truex’s 4.4-second lead and allowed the rest of the field to make adjustments to their race setups.
Every restart when Truex started up front, he opened up a massive lead, but an overheating lug nut forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop with 51 laps remaining and shuffled him a lap down.
Truex rallied for 14th.
Columbia, Mo., native Carl Edwards’ dream of a win at Kansas was dashed again on lap 84.
Edwards fell down two laps after scraping the wall, which left him with a flat right rear tire.
He slipped from seventh to 34th after missing pit road at the top of the backstretch and having to limp around the apron for an another lap.
Edwards remained a lap down, but found some speed and had moved back up into the top 10 after Truex’s issues.
He wound up 11th.