There are a few races out there that provide a field of big names battling hard for position with some drama and tensions flaring throughout. I just didn’t think I’d find one in a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas from 2007.
The series, then sponsored by Busch, came into Kansas Speedway late in the season with just a handful of races remaining until it would crown a champion.
Looking back at it, it provided more big names in an Xfinity race than I might have ever seen, even to those days’ standard when Cup series drivers raced on Saturday’s regularly.
At the forefront was a battle between Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.
A sneaky good Busch Race in Kansas, the ’07 Yellow Transportation 300
The race got off to a relatively slow start, but the team of Roush Fenway Racing cars jetted to the front early on.
Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards joined Kenseth to lead the pack along with Jeff Burton, who was piloting a Kevin Harvick Inc. car.
Denny Hamlin would drive up along with Busch – in one of the best looking paint schemes, probably ever – and show that they’ve both got speed, as well. It was an incredibly deep field.
Clint Bowyer spent his day racing through the field after starting in the 23rd position. He had a healthy amount of cautions to help him out a bit, but he made a lot solid moves on the track to trek up into the top five later on.
Around the halfway mark of the race, cars fled into turn one and fanned out to a four-wide formation. Kenseth went up the track to avoid a car to his inside, clipping the front left fender of Edwards’ car and forcing the No. 60 to go to the pits with a flat.
Edwards was vocally unhappy about the incident and it would come up again later on.
On a restart further through the 200-lap event, Paul Menard was in the sixth position and made a move to the outside to time up the restart to a tee.
Menard cruised around Hamlin and Bowyer and was challenging for third place by the back stretch.
I don’t know what ticked Hamlin off about it, considering Menard was behind Hamlin’s No. 20 car for most of the day leading up to that point, but he had some words for the No. 15 during the ensuing caution.
“Tell the 15, I’ve caught him 50 times, get out of the way,” Hamlin said on his radio.
On the restart, Hamlin got right under the back bumper of Menard’s car going into the corner, but Menard held strong.
Menard pushed running the outside line and held his spot.
“He’s just mad I’m faster than him,” Menard told his crew.
A few laps later, Edwards went hard into the wall. Something failed on his car and he emerged displeased with Kenseth for the incident from early on.
Edwards stood on the inside of the track and clapped as Kenseth went by, showing his displeasure with his Roush Fenway teammate.
In a classic Cousin Carl move, Edwards gave his interview after visiting the infield care center saying that he shouldn’t have blamed Kenseth for it.
Meanwhile, Hamlin and Menard continued to sound off over their radios.
“Don’t let that 20 (car) bother you,” one of Menard’s team members said.
“I ain’t worried about him.”
“10-4,” the crew member said. “That’s what I like to hear. I’m telling you that’s why he’s pissed right now, because he knows if he can’t get you here, you’ll drive off on him.”
After the race restarted and pit stops cycled through, Menard found himself chasing Hamlin and putting his bumper to the back of the No. 20 car this time.
It wouldn’t get Menard past Hamlin, but further sent an already obvious message.
For the rest of the race, the battle for eighth, seventh, and later sixth between the two was just as exciting about what was going on out front.
Busch was challenging Bowyer – who had stayed out – for second place.
He got to his inside and took a few laps to get by, but would eventually make his way up to Kenseth.
A Brian Vickers caution set the stage for what was presumably the final restart of the race with 17 laps to go.
Busch made his move right away to get take the lead from Kenseth, and the final caution flag flew shortly after.
This put the No. 5 car in the lead and in a position to fend off the No. 17, rather than chase for the final 15 laps.
It was the third win of Busch’s season in the No. 5 car in the Busch Series, and also his sixth top-two finish in a row on the tour.
His dominance during that late race run and ability to put himself in position to have an opportunity for the win augured his storied NASCAR career.
This Busch race in Kansas encompassed why he could be successful wherever he went.
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