Kyle Busch stole the win at the dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday night after contact between Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe in the final corner allowed the two-time Cup champion to sneak through for the victory.
Reddick led 99 of the final 100 laps, playing strong defense after multiple late caution periods that included a restart with 24 laps to go. Briscoe and Busch battled for second, but Briscoe quickly got the better of Busch and set his sights on Reddick.
Briscoe didn’t reach Reddick’s No. 8 Chevrolet until the final lap and sent his No. 14 Ford hard into Turn 3. Briscoe went sideways and lost control, sliding right-rear first into Reddick’s left rear. Both cars went for a spin, but Reddick did a quick 360-degree rotation and got back going. Busch stormed by both drivers and beat Reddick to the line by 0.33 seconds.
MORE: What drivers said
The victory is the 60th of Busch’s Cup career, ninth-most in history, and snaps a person 25-race winless streak, his last coming at Pocono Raceway on June 27, 2021. This also marks his 18th consecutive season with a win, tying Richard Petty’s record for most consecutive seasons with a win.
“We got one. It doesn’t matter how you get them. It’s all about getting them,” Busch told FOX Sports as he was showered with boos. “Man, I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now. This is awesome. I didn’t even do anything.”
Busch’s struggles came on the restarts following two rain delays, both of which appeared to threaten whether racing would continue.
“I don’t know why our car would not refire after the rain both times,” Busch said. “I was leading on the first big rain delay coming back and I fell to eighth and I was able to drive back through on the long run and get back into position. Then on that (second) one again, same thing and I fell off and couldn’t hang. It got me about 20 laps to get going, but overall, just great to get back in victory lane.”
Reddick was disappointed but took credit for the loss, noting he was caught because of his own mistakes behind the wheel.
Reddick was leading when the caution was displayed at Lap 212 as his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon blew an engine, slowing in the middle of the field and resulting in Kurt Busch getting turned into the outside wall.
As officials attempted to get the race resumed, heavy rain fell to halt the action for the second time Sunday night. Reddick would have been declared the winner had the race not resumed.
Briscoe took the green-and-white checkered flag to win Stage 2 at Lap 150 over Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez, and a persistent rain shower grew stronger to cause the first rain delay of the event. The red flag brought with it some confusion — the top four drivers chose to pit before NASCAR paused the race, vaulting Kyle Busch to the lead. But due to the unique format on dirt, scoring is frozen under each stage break. Despite being mired in traffic, Briscoe was still declared the leader because he led the last scored lap.
Busch assumed the lead when racing resumed to begin Stage 3 after a lengthy delay.
The event began with mud impacting cars soon after the green flag — most notably cars from the Stewart-Haas Racing stable. Polesitter Cole Custer had his grille caked in dirt after the opening laps and was forced to pit road, as were his teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick.
NASCAR deployed a caution at Lap 15, calling for mandatory pit stops for all cars to have their grilles and windshields cleaned before racing resumed. Almirola was awarded the free pass, but Custer and Harvick were still trapped a lap down after receiving a wavearound. Harvick was livid and refused to drop to the rear until repeatedly being ordered to do so by officials, eventually allowing the action to resume. Harvick was later involved in a four-car incident at Lap 98 and expressed his frustration in how the track was prepared.
At Lap 50, Briscoe pushed high and contacted the outside wall with his right rear, eventually resulting in a cut tire and leading to a spin that dropped the No. 14 car outside the top 30.
Completing the top five in the finishing order behind Busch and Reddick were Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney. Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 10. Briscoe finished 22nd.
There were no issues in post-race inspection.
Stage 1 winner: Kyle Larson
Stage 2 winner: Chase Briscoe
Who had a good race?: Tyler Reddick will surely be disappointed with his fourth career runner-up finish, but the third-year Cup driver showed again why many expect to see him in victory lane sooner than later. Reddick was in contention for wins at both Auto Club and Phoenix but was unable to break through either time. He’s getting closer to finally cracking through. … In 10th place, Ty Dillon scored his first top-10 finish since Talladega in October 2020. … Michael McDowell notched his first top 10 since Daytona.
Who had a bad race?: Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin all faced engine failures that resulted in DNFs and finishes outside the top 30.
Notable: In fourth, Kyle Larson notched his fourth top-five finish of the year. His other five finishes are 19th or worse. … Alex Bowman scored his fourth top 10 in the last five races.
Next race: The series heads to Talladega Superspeedway on April 24 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).