24 hours before Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, Kyle Busch’s car wasn’t even fully put together. It was a car on the haulers for spare parts should they need it. Well, after Busch crashed minutes into practice on Saturday, not only did they need the parts, they needed the car. All the focus at Joe Gibbs Racing went to preparing this car for a race a day later.
Busch, took it to a fourth place result. It further proves how good of a race car driver he truly is. In fact, Busch came from the back to the front multiple times during the course of the race at that.
“True testament to everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Busch. “Really appreciate my guys on the 18, but also the 11, 19 and 20 – all of them for coming over and pitching in. Everybody had a hand in being able to make us go today. So really appreciate that.”
He had a shifter problem early on and while he cracked the top 20 before the competition caution, they’d have to spend time on pit road ensuring it was fixed. Then, as he was coming through again, he spun to avoid a crash ahead on Lap 42 and would have to pit again for new tires.
It just seemed like the homecoming weekend for the Las Vegas native wasn’t going to be a good one. Everything wrong kept occurring.
That’s when the luck changed though too. The silver lining is Busch’s spin helped him avoid any car damage and he’d continue on. In fact, he’d finish 9th in Stage 1. He was 5th at the Stage 2 break. Then, early on in the final stage, he got up to second behind Ross Chastain. He’d pit one lap sooner than Chastain and would cycle ahead as a result.
Busch’s JGR teammate of Denny Hamlin broke his transmission leaving pit road and spun on Lap 224 bringing out a yellow. Busch, would inherit the lead and would stay up front for 42 of the next 43 laps.
Chastain, faded and Busch’s other JGR teammate of Martin Truex Jr. was charging hard. He’d pass Chastain and get to Busch’s bumper and make a real fight between these two for the victory. Then came that Lap 264 caution for Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace which took the win away from Busch.
See, everyone pit under that caution for the overtime finish. Busch, took four tires. Three Hendrick cars took two tires and exited 1-2-3. Busch, was fourth. That’s exactly where he’d finish for his 10th career top five on his hometrack which is most all-time.
“I was fast at the end and trying just to do what I could to hold the lead there with (Martin) Truex (Jr.),” Busch continued. “Felt like I inched away finally and we were coming to the white or something, I don’t know what it was, but anyways, it wasn’t meant to be. Not our day. See you next week.”
He also led 49 laps to give him 311 for his career here which is ninth most. Busch, finished third in both races a year ago at that and now has two top sixes in three starts this season.