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.”
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.”
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.”
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)
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.
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.”