Kurt Busch punched his ticket to the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs on Saturday evening, claiming his first victory of the season in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch NASCAR Bristol
Kurt Busch grabbed his first win of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season and clinched a playoff spot with his win Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Image: NBC Sports)

Busch took the lead off a restart on Lap 478, and held that position to the checkered flag to end a 58-race winless streak for the 40-year-old driver.

Busch Joins Brother in 30-Win Club

Buschs last win came in 2017, when he took first in the season-opening Daytona 500. Busch now has 30 career victories, including six at Bristol. That makes Kurt and his brother Kyle Busch the first pair of brothers ever to both reach 30 wins on the NASCAR Cup Series level.

I love this place, Kurt Busch said after the race. I always wanted to get to 30. This is a big win for me.

Both Busch brothers added excitement to the race. While Kurt was busy grabbing the win, Kyle was fighting back from a wreck on the second lap that seemed certain to knock him out of contention early on.

Kyle Busch managed to get all the way back into the top five late, before a cut tire after contact with Chris Buescher on Lap 481 ended any hopes of a miraculous comeback victory. Busch would finish the race in 20th place.

This M&Ms Camry was fast, even torn up and wrecked and everything else, Busch said after the race. We probably finished where we should have, but we had a shot anyways.

Big Three Fail to Make Impact

Overall, this was one of the weakest performances of the season from NASCARs Big Three. Of the leaders, Kevin Harvick performed best, leading eight laps and finishing in 10th position.

Martin Truex Jr. was among the leaders for a time, battling behind Clint Bowyer for the lead in the late stages of the race. But as Kyle Busch attempted to fight his way up to second position, he clipped Truex on Lap 432, crashing him and sending him out in 30th place.

Its just Bristol, said Truex, who also crashed out of the last race at the track. I probably shouldve bumped [Bowyer] out of the way just to get the lead and I wouldnt have been in that position. Sometimes youre the nice guy and you get knocked out of the way. Well just have to race him a little harder next time.

Busch wasnt the only driver to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday. With the points earned at Bristol, runner-up Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, and Brad Keselowski have also entered the rapidly closing playoff picture.

Those three join the nine drivers who have already won at least one race this year, meaning only four playoff spots remain available for the rest of the field. Denny Hamlin is currently next on the points list, with Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman behind him. However, any driver that wins one of the two remaining races would also clinch a postseason position, which could cut down on the number of points-based positions available.

From the perspective of the oddsmakers, however, the NASCAR Cup Series championship remains a three driver race. Ladbrokes has Harvick and Truex as 11/4 co-favorites, while Kyle Busch (3/1) is only fractionally behind them.