Kyle Busch emerged as a contender in the final miles and won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in overtime as other leaders crashed or ran out of fuel.
Busch, who was generally a non-factor at the front until the race’s twilight miles, took the lead on the final lap when Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney crashed while racing for first place. The race ended under caution with Busch in front.
“Sometimes you got to be lucky,” Busch told Fox Sports. “Some of these races come down to that. You got to take them when they come your way. The seas kind of parted there when they (Blaney and Wallace) went up the racetrack. They were trying to push draft. These cars are just not stable enough to do that. I saw the 23 (Wallace) just turn a little bit sideways. I was like, ‘Get out of the way, just miss it.’ Tried to see if I was ahead of the 12 (Blaney) by the time it was called.”
MORE: Talladega Cup results, driver points
MORE: Ryan Blaney looking for more after second-place run
The win was Busch’s second of the season and the 62nd of his career. He stayed on the track during the final caution and was third on the last restart as his fuel tank was nearing empty. Other drivers made the same fuel gamble. Ty Gibbs, a challenger at the front late in the race, ran out and finished 31st.
“We were sweating it (fuel) being close,” Busch said. “We got to gamble. You’re up here, got to take the track position when you have it, give it what you can on the restarts, see what happens. Lo and behold, it worked out. Knock on wood for this one.”
Busch, 37, became the season’s third multiple-race winner. He led only three laps. Blaney led 47 and Wallace 35.
Team owner Richard Childress said Busch is leading a resurgence of Richard Childress Racing and credited his grandson and team driver Austin Dillon with starting the discussion that put Busch in the No. 8 Chevrolet.
“I think he’s (Busch) helping us build RCR back to where we want to be,” Childress said. “I have to give all the credit to Austin Dillon. He’s the one that came to me. He knew Tyler (Reddick) was going somewhere else. He said, ‘Pop, what do you think about bringing Kyle Busch over here?’ I said, ‘I’ll talk to him if he wants to. We sat down, put a program together. The credit goes to Austin for bringing him on.”
Finishing behind Busch were Blaney, Chris Buescher, Chase Briscoe and Brad Keselowski.
The race’s first overtime went under caution quickly as Ross Chastain made a move to the middle to challenge Blaney for the lead. Noah Gragson lost control beside Chastain, starting an accident that involved several cars. Behind the leaders, Kyle Larson slid sideways and was hit hard by Ryan Preece. Chastain sprinted away from the contact.
The race landscape changed significantly with five laps to go when Joey Logano switched lanes and was bumped by Corey LaJoie, sparking a crash that involved six cars and brought out the caution flag. Blaney was the race leader.
Harrison Burton was out front with 47 laps to go when he was hit in the rear in a tight draft by Noah Gragson. Burton slid to the inside and off the racetrack before regaining control. The incident led to several cars spinning out near the rear of the pack, causing the race’s fifth caution.
The wreck dropped Burton to 33rd for the next restart.
A last-second move earned the Stage 2 win for Aric Almirola, who beat Chase Elliott to the line by a few feet. Kevin Harvick was third.
Elliott edged Alex Bowman and Chastain to win the first stage. The stage win was the first of the year for Elliott, who missed six races because of a leg injury. Wallace led 23 laps of the 60 during the stage.
Chase Briscoe lost control of his car entering pit road on Lap 44, spun and eventually stalled, causing the day’s second caution period.
Stage 1 winner: Chase Elliott
Stage 2 winner: Aric Almirola
Who had a good race: Bubba Wallace was in the front pack most of the day. … Chase Elliott, a winner at Talladega last year, was strong again, winning the first stage and finishing No. 2 in the second. … Harrison Burton, who has had a tough season, led the race in the final stage but was parked by a late-race accident.
Who had a bad race: Tyler Reddick had issues arriving on pit road, losing control and popping the inside wall. … Michael McDowell spun out in Turn 4 on the third lap and was lapped several times during the afternoon.
Next: The series rolls on to Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware for a 2 p.m. ET race April 30.