Kyle Busch went from being on the Chase bubble to being absolutely bubbly after finishing second in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Busch earned his third runner-up finish of the season – to go along with four wins – and motored on into the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs.
“It was a pretty good race for us; pretty simple, I guess, I’d say, too,” Busch said. “We had a really good race car, so my guys did a great job preparing a good piece for us, and allowed me to run up front all day. We were the second best car and we were able to come home second.
“We finished where I thought we deserved to be. The first 300 laps, it seemed like it was going to be pretty simple to finish there. Then things kind of got a little complicated there in the last 100 with pit strategies and pit stops and things going on with where we needed to be on the restart and all that stuff.
“It all ended out to be pretty good for us and our 18 car. Move on to the next round.”
On the final pit stop, Busch went for four tires, while race winner Kevin Harvick went for two. Some might have looked at that difference in pit strategy also as the difference in the race outcome.
“For as fast as Kevin was today, I don’t know if I could have had eight tires and I would have beat him,” Busch said. “(It) seemed like he had eight tires.”
While Busch came into Sunday’s race with confidence that he and his team would leave Dover with a good finish and advance to the second round, he admitted there was a bit of pre-race angst.
“I had a little bit of concern just based off the short amount of practice time that we got and the way the car was feeling in those practice sessions,” Busch said. “I just wasn’t quite as confident in it as I wanted to be.
“I never really got a good feel for what I thought I needed to race. … You know, I shouldn’t have been too worried, I guess. Should have put my faith in my team, which they prevailed today for me.”