After spending much of the race swapping the lead, Kyle Busch emerged as the leader on Lap 213 of 260 following the final round of green-flag pit stops.
But Kurt did not go away and methodically began chasing Kyle back down. With the help of Kurt’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Ross Chastain, slowing him up, Kurt passed Kyle with 25 laps remaining.
Although Kyle mounted several more challenges for the lead, Kurt was finally able to put some distance between the two after Kyle brushed the wall and claimed the win by 1.237 seconds.
“Hell yeah, we beat Kyle,” Kurt exclaimed after exiting his No. 1 Chevrolet. “I taught that kid everything I know. He should be grateful.”
Together, the Busch brothers combined to lead 235 of the 260 laps with Kurt tops at 144.
“That’s the biggest thing, just trying to pull out all the tricks and beat little brother,” Kurt said. “He’s one of the best in our sport. It took a teammate, in Ross Chastain, but what an incredible car and execution all day.
“We’ve won a race, we’re in the playoffs, no sweat going into September.”
The race was the last on Atlanta Motor Speedway’s current surface and configuration, which is likely a good thing. The race was halted 20 minutes between Stages 2 and 3 to repair chunks of track that came up on the frontstretch.
The win is Kurt Busch’s first of the season and locks him into the series playoffs. Four spots in the 16-driver field remain open with five races left in the regular season.
“I just kept asking the track, ‘Hey I’ve been here a long time with you. I missed the race in 2000, then I came back and won in 2002.’ To win this, on the old asphalt, I’m very appreciative to win the last race on this asphalt at Atlanta,” Kurt said.
Kyle Busch was not nearly as pleased with Chastain as his brother.
“Would’ve been a hell of a lot better if it wasn’t for some butthead. But it is what it is,” Kyle said. “It was ours to lose and we lost it.”
Martin Truex Jr., who started the race from the rear of the field, finished third, Alex Bowman was fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Matt DiBenedetto and Brad Keselowski.