For much of Saturday night's Bojangles Southern it looked like it was going to be the Kyle Busch Show Part III, but a flat tire late saw Busch fall and teammate Matt Kenseth triumphant to collect his third win of 2013.
Kenseth was able to take the lead from Busch with 13 laps to go when the handling in Busch's No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota began to fade away. It was revealed by crew chief Dave Rogers after the race that Busch had a flat right rear tire. After taking the lead, Kenseth never looked back and was able to win the Southern 500 for the first time in his career.
"It feels like one of my biggest win, if not my biggest win ever," Kenseth said on NASCAR Victory Lane.
Kenseth's son Ross also won his race in South Boston on Saturday night.
Jason Radcliff missed the race due to a one race suspension; penalties levied against the No. 20 Home Depot team after their win in Kansas were reduced during an appeal earlier this week.
Denny Hamlin finished second in his first full race back since suffering a L1 compression fracture at the Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin said he felt "tired" and "worn out" after the 500 mile event, and was disappointed to come up second for the second year in a row at the Lady in Black.
Jeff Gordon, who made his 700th consecutive Sprint Cup start Saturday night, came home third, followed by teammate Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick, who rebounded from taking the wave around after pitting before a caution, ended the night fifth. It was just the second top five for Harvick this season.
Kasey Kahne finished 17th after contact with Busch on lap 332 as the pair raced for the lead. Busch also made contact with Kahne last week at Talladega, causing "The Big One."
Afterwards, Kahne said he believed Busch "lost his head" when he went into the turn and the two made contact.
Carl Edwards finished seventh, and Juan Pablo Montoya collected his second top ten of the season with an eighth place result. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Ryan Newman rounded out the top ten.
Busch, who led the most laps of the night but ended the night sixth, did not comment after the race.
It was also a rough night for defending series champ Brad Keselowski, who had to pit early in the race with a vibration and never recovered. Keselowski also received damage on lap 313, and finished nine laps down in 32nd.
Jimmie Johnson leaves Darlington with atop the points standings with a 44 point lead over Carl Edwards.
No points will be on the line next Saturday night as the best of the best roll into Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2013 Sprint All Star Race. Coverage begins at 7:30 pm Eastern Time on SPEED and MRN.
Thanks to NASCAR on FOX/SPEED, NASCAR.com, Racing Reference, USA Today and Sporting News for the quotes, statistics and information used in this piece.