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Busch Gets Rowdy In His Return To Berlin Raceway, Wins Second Straight Star-Studded SRX Main Event

From Tyler Kuehl | mLive

MARNE, MI -- Kyle Busch knows a thing or two about winning big races, and he did so again on Thursday night in front of a jam-packed crowd, as the Superstar Experience made its debut at Berlin Raceway.

The night began with SRX’s traditional pair of heat races. Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski outdueled Kyle Busch for a win in the first heat, while Ryan Newman grabbed his third heat victory in 2023.

At the beginning of the 100-lap feature, Keselowski and Busch battled for the lead with Newman also in the mix. Keselowski would gain the upper hand, leading for the early portion of the race, but Busch stayed right on his tail. Following a competition caution on Lap 25, Keselowski tried to build some distance between him and Busch.

Helio Castroneves shot through the field on that restart, making his way up to second before the halfway mark of the race. Though he tested the Berlin dirt a couple of times, he was able to take the lead from Keselowski on Lap 51.

Another competition caution came on Lap 62, forcing Keselowski and Castroneves to restart side-by-side, but “The Spider” sped back to the lead, with Busch and Keselowski battling for second. Busch gained the spot from his NASCAR counterpart, and began challenging Castroneves around Lap 70, eventually gaining P1 on Lap 74.

Busch, who has plenty of winning experience at Berlin, widened the gap between him and the field. However, the cushion was taken away with another caution with just 16 laps to go. Busch got a great jump when the green flag dropped, and tried to leave the pack, but another caution came out with just six laps to go. However, Busch outlasted Keselowski one more time, grabbing his second win in as many weeks in the series.

While Busch is certainly far from a Berlin regular, he always seems to run well whenever he is in Marne. He won the Battle at Berlin three years in a row from 2010 to 2012, and has raced sporadically since then.

“Great energy, great crowd here at Berlin,” Busch stated in victory lane. “It was amazing, was able to come out here and have some fun, and beat up on these guys, it was pretty cool.”

The two-time Cup Series champion admitted having experience at Berlin previously helped in his performance on Thursday night.

“This place is so tough, so challenging. Berlin’s one of the toughest short tracks we go to. Familiarity was key. I was super tight early on, so we made a lot of adjustments.”

It had been 20 years since Brad Keselowski last raced at Berlin, but you would not have been able to tell by his performance. Along with grabbing his second heat win of the season, the NASCAR Team Penske driver grabbed his second-straight top-five finish, with his runner-up result the best in his run with the series this year.

“I had a lot of fun,” Keselowski mentioned after the race. “I didn’t run a perfect race, but ran pretty well tonight, really smooth.”

Racing drivers from other forms of motorsports is something that Keselowski has enjoyed in his time with SRX.

“[Castroneves] is a four-time Indy 500 champion, [Busch] is a Cup champion, I have won a Cup championship. Nowhere but SRX do you see that.”

The night was an overall success. A lively atmosphere, a boisterous crowd on top of some great racing. Series co-founder Tony Stewart was blown away by the experience and is already looking to the future.

“These guys did an amazing job here,” Stewart told reporters on pit road. “The fans were unbelievable. I can tell you, [Berlin’s] already on our list of tracks to come back to. My goal’s always been to go to six different tracks each year, but I can tell you that this is one of the tracks that will be on our priority list, this is a no-brainer for us, we enjoyed it here.”

Stewart, who has run at Berlin in the past, says the 7/16-mile oval provides challenges that not many other short tracks do.

“It’s really technical. This track has got so many aspects to it. Over half of the field was on top of the hospitality suite watching the [Limited] Late Model race just to see where guys ran and got around. When you have professional race car drivers that are watching guys that run here every week, that tells you hard it is to figure out.”


1. Kyle Busch

2. Brad Keselowski

3. Ryan Newman

4. Marco Andretti

5. Hailie Deegan

6. Ken Schrader

7. Tony Stewart

8. Helio Castroneves

9. Bobby Labonte

10. Kevin Harvick

11. Kasey Kahne

12. Johnny Benson Jr.

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See everything that's happening at Berlin Raceway:

Photo's: Kyle Busch | SRX | Berlin Raceway | Tyler Kuehl (mLive)


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