Kyle Busch on last-lap Bristol win: ‘Take ’em how you get ’em’

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — After Alex Bowman won earlier this season at Las Vegas, a race Kyle Busch seemed poised to win until a late caution, Busch ranted on the radio about how Bowman “backs into every … win that he ever … gets.”

Sunday night, Busch was running third on the last lap when Chase Briscoe and leader Tyler Reddick tangled, spinning both. Busch slipped by Reddick to win, snapping a 25-race winless drought. 

Busch was asked about the notion of backing into this win.

“I think you take ’em how you get ‘em,” he said. “I feel like we ran up front all night long. Actually, I passed Kyle Larson – write that down (he noted smiling). I ripped the lip, as they say, a few times there on restarts in order to get some spots and stuff like that to get us in better positions, to be in contention to be up where we needed to be.

“Yeah, I think the fastest car tonight was actually (Briscoe’s) car. I think we were faster than (Reddick’s) car once we got a few cycles and heat on our tires. We could not come back after rain delays very well. So, (Reddick) drove away from me. I couldn’t contend there.

“The last restart before that, before the second rain delay happened, I was on his bumper like he was in my way. I was just trying to figure out a way to get by him without doing exactly what Briscoe did and just crash trying.”

The victory marked the 18th consecutive season Busch has had at least one Cup win, tying Richard Petty for the longest consecutive streak in series history. The victory also was the 60th of Busch’s Cup career. That ranks ninth on the all-time Cup victory list.

More important is that the win came in what has been a frustrating season for Busch.

I don’t think the win here (Sunday) really says anything about our season,” he said. “We all have had some vocal meetings this year with some struggles and things like that.

“I would say realistically we’ve had a shot — take out the two speedway races, Atlanta and Daytona, there’s seven others. I’d say realistically we’ve had a shot to win two of those: Vegas and Richmond. All of rest of them have literally been 15th to 20th. We were just scrounging to get whatever we could get out of those days.

“A couple of them we messed up on, threw them away. I was running third or going for third on the last lap at COTA. Ended up spinning out. That was a bad day. We’ve just had some bad luck.

“Maybe Fontana we were faster than we anticipated, though. It’s just not been our typical Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota having speed every week.”

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Kyle Busch was among the critics of racing on dirt at Bristol leading into the race. Kevin Harvick also was a critic and expressed his frustrations Sunday night. So how did Busch feel about what Sunday night’s race was like?

“A lot of, lot of, lot of different variables here for this answer,” Busch said. “But the biggest one is they did do a better job with the track this year, for sure. God helped us out a lot (Sunday night) with watering it periodically, so that was really good. We didn’t even have to rely on the water truck driver.

“But the biggest thing that hinders me from enjoying this is just the application. We’re trying to do something that isn’t applicable, in my opinion. I mean, the first 10 laps of the race, everybody is shooting mud off, we’re covering everybody’s grilles. Our windshields are covered with the dirt going off the windshield, stuff like that.

“Those guys talk about the windshields and stuff like that: If we get rid of the windshields, we could have tear-offs and stuff. That’s fine, but the cars are 3500 pounds. You saw what it’s like on the last corner, the last lap, to drive around here every single lap. You are on edge, on your toes, just trying not to crash every single lap.

“When you’re in a dirt car, I’ve now run micros, dirt late models, a few different types of vehicles on dirt. When there’s grip, it’s grip and rip. You are driving the heck out of that thing. Makes you breathe hard. This thing here, you’re just not breathing because you’re so tensed up of not crashing. It’s just the application.

“If it’s a good show, it’s a good show. I think Bristol is fine with or without. I’ve won on them all, so I think I have the best say.”

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Coy Gibbs, father of Ty Gibbs, represented Joe Gibbs Racing in the winner’s press conference with Kyle Busch after Sunday night’s race. Coy Gibbs is the vice chairman and chief operating officer at JGR.

Sunday night was the first time Coy Gibbs had been with the media and he was asked about Ty’s actions in punching Sam Mayer after the Xfinity race at Martinsville Speedway.

“That’s my son,” Coy Gibbs said. “I have his back 24/7, 365 days a year. Our conversations are private. We’re a pretty tough family. We raise our children tough. I’m proud of him as a human, and I think he’s talented driving a car. So that’s what you got.”

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Ty Dillon’s 10th-place finish was his first top 10 of the season. That leaves five drivers who have run all nine races this season and have yet to score a top-10 finish.

Those drivers are:

Cole Custer (best finish 11th)

Justin Haley (11th)

Harrison Burton (16th)

Todd Gilliland (16th)

Cody Ware (17th)

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Last year at Knoxville Raceway — the last dirt race for the Camping World Truck Series before last weekend’s race at Bristol — the event was derided for the number of cautions. It took four overtimes and 29 extra laps to finish the race, which went 179 laps.

Last weekend at Bristol, the Trucks had eight cautions over 150 laps and did not go to overtime.

The difference?

Bristol winner Ben Rhodes said the difference could be traced to the two tracks.

“Knoxville started driving like a slower pavement track,” Rhodes said. “It got really, really, really aggressive because the bottom was where you needed to be and it was rubbered up. There weren’t multiple grooves. Here (at Bristol) there were multiple grooves. You could pass. 

“At Knoxville you had to bump, it was so grippy that if you wanted to pass, people were gassing up on each other in the middle of the corners and pushing them out of the way. I remember running around people who were just turning left and right on your on the straightaway trying to get in or push you out of the line. It was kind of on the bottom. 

“It’s just the difference in racetrack and dirt. Certainly I think it’s more or less the dirt. Knoxville is Knoxville because it’s awesome. It holds moisture. It allows for great dirt racing for those style of cars but for us it rubbers up. We were on the bottom. I’ve run there once. Knoxville is like the Holy Grail of racing.

“I’m not dissing Knoxville. I’m just saying they’ve got amazing dirt and it holds moisture really, really well and it rubbered up. I’ve never seen that before in a truck. I think that was the big factor.”

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.