Kyle Busch claims first win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup title defence

Kyle Busch took the first race win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup title defence and his first at Martinsville in the top series with a crushing performance

Kyle Busch claims first win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup title defence

The reigning champion led an incredible 352 of the 500 laps and was calm at the final restart to fend off a late challenge from Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Matt Kenseth.

The outside lane proved to be the wrong choice for Kenseth as he slipped back to finish 15th, a disappointing result given he was a constant top three runner all race and had traded places with his team-mate in the early stages.

In a bid to keep Stewart-Haas's Kevin Harvick behind, the JGR pair didn't fight and allowed each other to pass for the lead when their car's handling went away from them at restarts.

Busch eventually emerged as the stronger of the two and proceeded to take complete control of the race, adding the Cup win to his triumph in the Truck Series support event on Saturday.

Harvick had looked to challenge for the win and did lead 72 laps, but pitstop errors and a poor final restart on the outside lane meant he finished 17th.

Staying out for the final restart as others pitted for tyres paid off for AJ Allmendinger as the JTG Daugherty Racing driver finished second.

Conversely taking four fresh tyres at the final stops allowed Kyle Larson to snatch third, with Austin Dillon fourth.

Brad Keselowski came back from a pitlane speeding penalty at the second caution to finish fifth.

Polesitter Joey Logano had looked strong all weekend but ended up a lap down early on after the handling of his Penske Ford drastically deteriorated.

Despite getting a free pass on lap 136, he never really recovered and finished 11th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr finished 14th after recovering from an early spin that put him a lap down.

Last year's winner Denny Hamlin had started eighth and was fifth before smacking the wall near half-distance and causing terminal damage to his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

RESULTS - 500 LAPS

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3h17m02.s
2 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 0.663s
3 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 1.408s
4 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 2.306s
5 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 2.720s
6 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3.129s
7 Brian Vickers Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 3.346s
8 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 3.520s
9 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 3.861s
10 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 4.654s
11 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 5.519s
12 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 5.637s
13 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 6.345s
14 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 6.630s
15 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 6.805s
16 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 6.814s
17 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 7.857s
18 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 9.207s
19 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 10.662s
20 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
21 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 1 Lap
22 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
23 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
24 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
25 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 3 Laps
26 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 4 Laps
27 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 4 Laps
28 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 5 Laps
29 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 5 Laps
30 Cole Whitt Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 5 Laps
31 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 6 Laps
32 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 6 Laps
33 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford 9 Laps
34 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 9 Laps
35 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 10 Laps
36 Joey Gase Go FAS Racing Ford 10 Laps
37 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 10 Laps
38 Josh Wise The Motorsports Group Chevrolet Engine
39 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Accident
40 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Engine

LEADING CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Pos Driver Points
1 Kevin Harvick 220
2 Jimmie Johnson 216
3 Kyle Busch 215
4 Carl Edwards 206
5 Joey Logano 196
6 Brad Keselowski 178
7 Austin Dillon 176
8 Kurt Busch 176
9 Denny Hamlin 172
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 172
11 Martin Truex Jr. 150
12 A.J. Allmendinger 147
13 Jamie McMurray 143
14 Matt Kenseth 140
15 Ryan Blaney 132
16 Chase Elliott 131
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 128
18 Kasey Kahne 128
19 Ryan Newman 126
20 Kyle Larson 125
21 Paul Menard 125
22 Aric Almirola 121
23 Greg Biffle 109
24 Trevor Bayne 109
25 Brian Scott 100
26 Danica Patrick 97
27 Regan Smith 95
28 Casey Mears 94
29 Landon Cassill 90
30 David Ragan 87

PROVISIONALLY INTO CHASE SO FAR

Jimmie Johnson (2 wins), Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch (1 win)

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