Busch Continues His Assault On History Books

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 8 2019
Kyle Busch put on another show for NASCAR fans on Sunday. This time at the expense of his older brother.

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Team Penske owned the race, but when the checkered flag waved in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway Kyle Busch possessed the victory that gave him 54 career wins and tied him for 10th with Lee Petty on NASCAR’s all-time Cup win list.

“Getting to Lee Petty, I mean, you’re starting to get into some really heavy company that’s at the top 10 of the all-time wins list of our series and our sport,” said Busch, who led three times for 71 laps. “I feel as though I’ve just done my fair share and have been with some amazing people over the years that have gotten me to this number thus far. When you win these races, the numbers will just continue to add up.”

Busch’s victory gives him eight Bristol wins, making him the winningest active driver at the high-speed, half-mile track. It also makes him the first driver in 27 years to produce top-10 finishes in the season’s first eight races. The last driver to accomplish that feat was Terry Labonte.

With the victory, the 33-year-old Busch also continued his family’s win streak at the Tennessee speedway. Kyle has now won three of the last four Bristol races with his older brother, Kurt, winning the other one last August. Kurt finished less than a second behind his brother Sunday and admitted to him in victory lane that he would have wrecked him for the win if he could have gotten close enough.

“I told him, ‘You can’t tell people you’re going to wreck them before you do it because when the roles are reversed that person is going to wreck you because you already told them you were going to wreck them,’” Kyle said after his third victory this season. “So I guess if I’m ever running second to Kurt, I’m going to wreck him.”

Sunday’s victory was extremely satisfying for the Joe Gibbs Racing team which had to fight back from a lap 2 accident that eliminated Aric Almirola and also involved Ricky Stenhouse Jr., William Byron and Ryan Preece. At the time, crew chief Adam Stevens told Busch his Toyota wasn’t severely damaged. Busch never lost a lap, but he found himself in a tough situation.

“We got hit pretty square on the bumper cover,” Stevens said. “It kind of shoved it up and forward. That would not be an aero detriment. The quarter panel was loose. That could have changed the balance in the car in an unfavorable way. If we were off after the damage, it was because we weren’t very good. I don’t think it was because of the damage.”

While Busch fought his way back to the front, Team Penske gave the appearance that the race would be settled among that organization’s three drivers as they led a total of 344 laps. Ryan Blaney led the most, setting the pace on three occasions for 158 laps, while teammate Joey Logano was out front five times for 146 laps. Brad Keselowski led twice for 40 laps.

However, when the 11th and final caution period was triggered with 20 laps remaining, the race’s complexion changed. The three Penske drivers pitted for fresh tires and the Busch brothers didn’t. When the race restarted with 14 laps remaining, the fresh tires didn’t provide the advantage expected and Logano had to settle for third and Blaney fourth. Keselowski incurred a pass through penalty on the restart for disobeying a NASCAR request to allow Ryan Newman’s Ford in front of his. That left him finishing 18th.

“It’s really hard to pass and by the time I got to third those cars were so far ahead of me I was stuck and was not going to get to them,” Logano said. “It stinks when you have the fastest car and don’t win. We had the car part figured out today. We just missed it on some other ends.”

Blaney was dejected after the race and admitted he needed to get better “as the track kind of rubbers out.”

“Joey is really good at it,” Blaney said. “The track rubbers in and I just need to do something different there.” 

After eight races this season, Chevrolet remains winless, and only two organizations have visited victory lane – JGR and Team Penske.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 8 2019
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