Written By: Adrian Beecher
Bristol TN– Kyle Busch made it back-to back victory weekends following his win in Texas last week, with a victory at Bristol in the Food City 500. The race was delayed for weather multiple times, including a nearly 21-hour break that pushed the race to Monday afternoon.
“It’s just the long long delays and things that happen that kind of get you in and out of your game,” said an excited Kyle Busch. “Tell you what, you just got to stay focused for the entirety of it and try to keep going. I of course used some NOS in order to help me do that and some Skittles, of course, to help me do that. We had plenty of those during the break, but I can’t say enough about this Skittles Toyota Camry. I mean Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and these boys brought a great race car. We knew it was going to be good in the long runs.”
Long runs were certainly the forte for Busch after falling back nearly every restart. However, once his car came in a long run, it was clear that the No. 18 was one of the cars to beat.
Early in the race, some of the top series competitors suffered issues that kept them out of contention for the win, including Ryan Blaney, who led 99 of 119 laps before totaling his car in a wreck in turn four. Martin Truex Jr. also found himself in an incident early in the race that left him without a hood and on the track “just going around”, as Truex Jr. described it.
Brad Keselowski won both Stages 1 and 2 of the race, however in the final hundred laps of the race tire issues would strike, putting him down multiple laps. Then a blown left front tire on Keselowski’s car would bring out the caution with just 29 laps to go.
Right before Keselowski blew his tire, Kyle Busch’s crew made the call to pit on the next lap. As the caution came out, Busch was able to stay on the lead lap and waited to pit under yellow with everyone else. After the race, Kyle was asked if that unintentional help from Brad, improved Kyle’s liking of Brad.
“That’s pushing it too far. I mean, that’s why I said earlier, I was like, fortunately for us, unfortunately for others. I kind of felt bad for him maybe just that much, but it certainly helped our cause, so that was much appreciated. Let’s just go with that.”
After the caution, the field went back to green flag racing with just 22 laps to go and Kyle Larson out in front. Larson would get a great jump on the restart and pull out to a sizeable six car length lead. However, Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were in the hunt and waiting for the right time to make their moves.
Stenhouse Jr. was able to get to the back of Larson, and then Kyle Busch got to the back of Stenhouse Jr., bumping him out of the way. Then with just 10 laps to go, it was Kyle Busch chasing Larson. With five to go, Busch was able to get to the back of Larson and did a little bump and run to get by Larson for the lead. However, Busch thought he may have made the move too soon.
“He slipped up a few times and was able to give me that opportunity to get there, and we made the most of it,” said Busch. “When it comes down to the end, it’s crunch time, you’ve got to go. I wasn’t sure if I made my move too soon. I thought so. But our car was fast enough that Larson never had a shot to get back to us to repay the favor.”
The win was the 46th of Kyle Busch’s career putting him alone in 16th place on the all-time wins list in the Cup series, passing Bill Elliott. It also marks’s his 7th win at Bristol in just 26 races at the track.
The Monster Energy Cup drivers now have a short week to get ready for Saturday’s night race at Richmond Raceway after an extended time at Bristol. This is another track that Busch has had much success at with four wins and 15 top five finishes in 25 races at the track. We will have to wait if he can repeat Kevin Harvick’s performance from earlier this season when he won three straight races.