Kurt Busch passes Larson late for a Kansas Speedway win

Kurt Busch had just the slimmest of leads over Kyle Larson as they came down the front stretch on lap 259 of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway. Busch went on to win the race, and Larson finished second. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Kurt Busch used a family connection and then a sly move to take the lead in the AdventHealth 400 with eight laps remaining. The veteran driver went on to take the checkered flag, his 34th win but only the first with 23XI Racing, a new team started last year by co-owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.

Though Busch led at the end of stage 2, a slow pit stop under caution on lap 234 dropped him into third place behind his brother Kyle Busch, with Kyle Larson in the lead.

After Kyle Busch made an attempt to pass Larson and conceded his car didn’t have enough pace, he let Kurt move up to second and try his luck.

Kurt had taken the measure of Larson on a earlier pass and was sheltering his tires for a late-race move. Judging that Larson would be weakest at turn 2, he made his move there and had the speed and grip to make it stick.

Once in clean air, Busch’s Toyota was at its strongest and got well clear of Larson by the last lap.

As Busch described it afterwards, “It all unfolded perfectly where I was able to make the move and not lose momentum and break the draft and bring our Toyota home to victory lane.”

Larson finished second.  Kyle Busch finished third and won stage 1. Denny Hamlin finished fourth, and Christopher Bell, who qualified with the fastest time, led 37 laps and finished fifth.

Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner was in attendance and reflected on the event before the race.

“This is awesome, having people from all over the country come and converge on Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. It really highlights how awesome our community is,” the mayor said.

“Really, you couldn’t ask for a better venue, when you talk about NASCAR and the longstanding partnership Wyandotte County’s had.”

“I’m optimistic about the future,” Garner added. “This is a good example of the value of positive partnerships we have with entities such as NASCAR.”

NASCAR racing returns to Kansas Speedway with the Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 on Sept. 10 and the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 on Sept. 11.

Kurt Busch celebrated with his team in victory lane after the race. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner got an embrace from driver Bubba Wallace during pre-race introductions. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Morning storms cleared in time for an afternoon of racing action at Kansas Speedway. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Kurt Busch led Kyle Busch around turn 4. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Kurt Busch greeted Sen. Roger Marshall before the race. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Christopher Bell’s pit crew sprinted to their stations during a pit stop. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
A fan looked out at the speedway stands from the infield. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Daniel Suarez’s Chevrolet showed some wear and tear from hitting the wall on lap 63. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
The base color guard from Whiteman Air Force Base presented the colors before the race. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Kurt Busch, wearing pants that matched his race car, walked to pit road before the race. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Friends enjoyed the warm weather and racing action from the Kansas Speedway stands. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Ross Chastain raced for the title sponsor in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Kurt Busch crossed the finish line under the checkered flag for the race win. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Austin Cindric and Chase Elliott raced wheel to wheel around turn 4. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

Portland beats Sporting KC, 7-2

Sporting Kansas City suffered a 7-2 road loss at Portland Timbers FC on Saturday night at Providence Park in Oregon with eight of the game’s nine goals scored in a second half that saw both teams reduced to 10 players.

The Timbers opened the scoring 12 minutes into the match on a set piece delivered by Eryk Williamson and headed home by center back Bill Tuiloma at the top of the six-yard box.

Sporting Kansas City responded with the game’s next four shots, the first of which came in the 16th minute as club captain Johnny Russell beat his defender on the endline and found Khiry Shelton for a first-time shot that was saved by Aljaz Ivacic.

Veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza provided the next three attempts, smashing a shot from the edge of the penalty area just wide of the post in the 23rd minute on a pass cut back by Cam Duke before forcing a save from Ivacic three minutes later with a right-footed effort from distance.

Portland came close to doubling its lead on the cusp of halftime if not for a strong sliding save from Tim Melia in the 43rd minute to deny Nathan Fogaca. Nevertheless, the Timbers would explode for three goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half to open the floodgates.

Just 29 seconds after halftime, Sebastian Blanco buried a volley from close range on an assist from Cristhian Paredes. Less than six minutes later, Blanco would stretch the Portland lead to 3-0 on a counterattack as the 34-year-old Argentine playmaker cut inside and curled the eventual game-winning goal inside the far post.

The Timbers struck again in the 56th minute, this time with Blanco playing the part of provider, as Fogaca scored his first of two goals on the night in a memorable MLS debut.

Sporting pulled a goal back nearly immediately as just over a minute later Russell punched in a perfectly-placed cross from halftime substitute Felipe Hernandez for the 43rd regular season goal of his career, tying him for third on the club’s all-time goal scoring chart.

Fogaca bagged his brace with his final touch of the night in the 69th minute as Blanco combined with Williamson on a give-and-go inside the penalty area before putting the ball on a platter for the 22-year-old Brazilian forward to tap into the net.

Despite the 5-1 score, the second half continued to produce twists and turns as referee Victor Rivas sent off Timbers defender Josecarlos Van Rankin in the 74th minute and Sporting KC defender Robert Voloder in the 78th minute. Both players received their second cautions of the match.

In between the ejections, Marinos Tzionis – the hero in Sporting’s 4-2 comeback win over FC Dallas on Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup with a 98th minute equalizer — scored on a header for the second straight match as he re-directed Hernandez’s free kick in the 75th minute for his first MLS goal.

Portland put the exclamation point on the team’s historic performance with two goals in the game’s closing minutes as second-half substitutes Marvin Loria and Santiago Moreno added their names to the scoresheet with goals in the 88th and 92nd minutes.

By the time the dust settled, Saturday’s match will go into the record books as the sixth highest scoring match in MLS regular season history with Portland’s six second-half goals the most ever scored in the second half of an MLS regular season match and their seven total goals the second most ever scored by an MLS team in the regular season.

The seven combined goals in the second half are also second most in MLS regular season history – trailing only the eight second half goals scored in Kansas City’s 6-4 win over Columbus on May 2, 1996.

Sporting Kansas City will return home to play host to the Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the mid-week match are available online at SeatGeek.com.

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KC Current rallies to tie Orlando, 2-2

The Kansas City Current kicked off a stretch of three road matches Saturday with a draw against the Orlando Pride.

Forwards Elyse Bennett and Kristen Hamilton each scored to earn the Current a point on the road.

“I’m proud of the group, and we use this result to say this is the starting point, this is the standard,” head coach Matt Potter said. “There are lessons to be learned, but overall, it’s one that you’re happy to walk away with something. We wish it were a little bit more, given the way the game played out.”

After a scoreless first half, the action picked up in the 51st minute, when the Pride scored first. Darian Jenkins crossed into Sydney Leroux at the back post, who knocked it to the center for team captain Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir. Her shot slid under Kansas City goalkeeper A.D. Franch to put the Pride ahead.

The Current answered in the 76th minute. A long ball in from Lo’eau LaBonta found Bennett at the far post

The rookie forward, who entered the match in the 60th minute, charged toward the goal to head the ball past Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod and notch her first professional goal.

Kansas City took the lead with a late match stunner. Bennett again found herself with the ball on the right-hand side of the field. Her cross found Kristen Hamilton perfectly at the center of the box, who knocked it in right at the 91st minute.

The Pride tied it up six minutes into stoppage time, when Desiree Scott was whistled for a foul in the penalty box after clearing the ball away from Kylie Strom. Toni Pressley stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick and tied the match at two goals each.

Kansas City defender Kristen Edmonds reached 10,000 NWSL regular season minutes played in the 61st minute. She joins goalkeeper A.D. Franch, who reached the same milestone in the Current’s last match.

Next, the Kansas City Current travel to Los Angeles to take on Angel City FC at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21. The next home match is May 30 against Racing Louisville FC. Season tickets and flex plans are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For tickets and information visit kansascitycurrent.com.

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