CONCORD, N.C. – For Kurt Busch, Miller time was worth a cool million as he strolled to victory in Saturday night's NASCAR All-Star Race.
"A million cold ones, baby," Busch exclaimed before a massive burnout under the flagstand at Charlotte Motor Speedway followed by a reverse celebration lap around the track to the Victory Lane stage as his team awaited the No. 2 Dodge.
But for brother Kyle it was a different sensation. He and teammate Denny Hamlin fought for real estate throughout the night before calamity ensued, giving Joe Gibbs another headache he didn't need.
Although the event had all the makings of a Busch brothers rematch from three years ago, Kurt, 31, went on to win the race and picked up valuable data for next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Kyle, 25, had a winning-caliber car but found himself sidelined with two laps remaining in the event and stewing.
It looked like the roles would be reversed earlier in the evening, as Kyle started from the pole and Kurt hit the wall twice during the third of four segments in the event, but the No. 2 Miller put on a true team effort as it avoided the mayhem that is the All-Star race, executed strategy flawlessly and made the necessary adjustments throughout the first 90 laps to dial the car in for the final 10-lap dash for cash.
"Everything that happened, we were in the right position to get around it," crew chief Steve Addington said of the incidents of attrition. "We made big adjustments at that 10-minute break (between the final segments) for Kurt to be that good at the beginning of the run."
The No. 2 team opted for two tires in the third segment and dropped to 11th for the final 10-lap segment. On the mandatory four-tire stop, the Brew Crew went into action changing shocks and shims.
"I thought the car was good enough," Busch said. "We just needed to be good when it counted."
Jimmie Johnson dominated the second and third segments of the race Saturday. He lost the lead in the final segment during a mandated pit stop. The restart of the race was further delayed by an eight-car wreck triggered by Joey Logano. The final dash for cash ignited the fireworks between Hamlin and Kyle Busch.
On Lap 93, the Gibbs duo were in a heated battle for the lead when Hamlin blocked Busch's passing attempt and put him in the wall - effectively ending his night. Penske Racing's veteran driver took advantage, securing the lead. He would have to endure one late challenge when his younger sibling had a wreck that ended his evening for good,
As the elder brother enjoyed a few cold ones in Victory Lane, the other Busch brother was simply cooling down as he parked his car outside Hamlin's hauler and waited for his teammate inside.
Hamlin made no excuses for his incident with Busch.
"As the leader, it is my job to do everything I can to win that race," Hamlin said. "This race in specific is a much different beast than what a points race is, and I think he understands that.
"From my standpoint, we're going to drive each other different, no doubt about it. We've seen it in years past, guys suck each other around, guys running each other up the racetrack, but I felt like if Kyle had position on the outside, then I definitely should have given him the lane. I just basically took the air off and like he said, he was just dumb and didn't check up. It's just one of those things."
Busch the younger left the hauler without speaking to the media. That duty, reminiscent of the Tony Stewart JGR days, fell on Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers and Coach Gibbs. For Gibbs, the consternation is a good problem to have.
"It means this: We've got good cars," Gibbs said. "When you have good cars and good drivers, you're going to be up front and this can happen. You can get a situation where two guys are racing each other hard and both of them have a burning desire to win the race.
"Basically, what we did is we just met, talked it over. I think the guys had a great discussion and, hey, we left it there."
Gibbs has the unenviable task of keeping the peace among two of the top talents in the garage -- both who just happen to be in the top five in the points standings and will likely contend for the Chase. Defusing the situation now, could mean the difference between playing referee for the rest of the season or winning the championship.
Kurt Busch posted his first win, his fourth top-five and his fifth top 10 finish in nine NASCAR All-Star Race appearances.
Martin Truex Jr. scored his second Sprint Showdown victory after leading the final eight laps. His second-place finish in the All-Star was a career best.
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps (56) but finished 13th -- the last car running at the finish of the 21 drivers entered.
NASCAR confiscated six engines following the Camping World Truck Series race.
Kyle Busch's winning No. 18 engine from Triad along with the No. 17 Toyota, the Nos. 33 and 31 Chevrolets, the No. 10 Ford and No. 23 Dodge were taken back the NASCAR Research and Development Center and will be run on the dynamometer next week.
Say What? (Part I)
Kyle Busch's comments on the radio after the No. 11 took his line and forced him into the wall on Lap 98:
"Someone better keep me away from Denny Hamlin after this race ... I had this race won"
Say What? (Part II)
Third-place finisher Joey Logano on the feud between his Gibbs teammates Busch and Hamlin:
"I know nothing."