Kyle Busch falls short of Darlington win on pit road

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

DARLINGTON, S.C. — After seeing Denny Hamlin miss pit road during the final round of pit stops, Kyle Busch thought he was set for back-to-back wins in the Bristol Night Race and Southern 500.

Instead Busch lost the lead and, ultimately, the race to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate on pit road.

“I thought that was going to be our saving grace to win the race, was Denny missing pit road, because we were ahead of him,” Busch said. “When he missed it, I passed him. Then we came down pit road, and we didn’t have one of the best stops of the day there on the final one. The (No.) 11 must have because they passed us back leaving pit road, and I just wasn’t able to get back in front of him.”

Sporting one of the few cars on the premises without a throwback paint scheme, Busch put in a strong – albeit quiet – showing at Darlington Raceway, finishing ninth in the race’s opening stage before climbing inside of the top five by the end of Stage 2.

Busch was rarely a factor for the race lead, pacing the field for just six laps on the night as he trailed dominant teammate Hamlin and the continually strong Martin Truex Jr. But in the closing laps, the Nevadan had maneuvered his way into the conversation by playing the same tire strategy as Hamlin – staying out as others pitted to make his final stop late and drive through the field on fresh rubber.

At the time, Busch appeared poised for no better than second, but a critical mistake for Hamlin allowed Busch to pass the Virginian and take over what looked to be the potential winning position.

Busch temporarily passed Hamlin, but lost the spot back to his teammate on pit road.

With the superior car, Hamlin drove off, challenging Truex for the lead and claiming his second win of the season.

Busch settled for second – a run he was content with after running without a race-winning car.

“Yeah, it was a really good effort for us, really good race for us,” Busch said. “I certainly wish that we could have kept pace with the 11 (Denny Hamlin) a little bit longer. We were right there with him for a long time – longer than we had all night long in that final stint – but he got through a couple lap cars a little quicker than I did and then they got side by side and then I got sucked into the fence and after that it just wasn’t the same.

“So we oeust had to try to bide our time and just come home in one piece or nobody was coming behind us, so we just had to – I think we had a seven second gap or something behind us, so we had a long ways to give up so we just did that and the 11 was just the car of the day and class of the field, so congratulations to those guys.”

One Comment

  1. Douglas

    September 4, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Breaking news! Earnhardt still sucks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *