Busch Returns to Familiar Form with Dover Top 5

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Through nearly 20 years of racing at NASCAR’s elite level, Kyle Busch would infamously dismiss a fourth-place finish Sunday at Dover Motor Speedway. Heck, any result worse than first is reason to leave the race track annoyed.

However, following the opening 10 races of 2024, himself and Richard Childress Racing are holding the result high above their heads.

Scoring RCR’s first pole of the year on Saturday, Busch led the opening 33 laps (his most of any race this year) and stayed in position for a potential victory during the final stage.

However, a second pit stop under yellow eliminated Busch from the frontrunners, leading to a hard charge to the checkered.

“I felt like when we came off pit road there in third,” Busch said, “if we could have maintained third, maybe-kinda-sorta we would have had something for the front two [Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson] or at least keep pace closer to the front two and see what happened later in the race.

“But that wasn’t meant to be. We had to come back down and restart eighth. Eighth to fourth in the final run right there. Decent day. Obviously, could have been one spot better but still not a win.”

One reason Busch couldn’t climb back to third was the aero-push that drivers have often called out in the Next Gen car. Kyle Larson believes the rearview cameras are partly to blame for the increased tactic of aero-blocking. Busch, meanwhile, could only place blame on the car and the driver, namely Martin Truex Jr.

“At least you could move around… the aero-blocking is just so bad. It’s so bad,” he said. “And everybody knows it and uses it as a defense item. We lost a straightaway to the No. 19 [Truex], that’s what frustrated me the most. He was slower, he was slow. And he would not give me an inch to be able to get by. [He] about wrecked us twice getting off [Turn] 2.”

Despite the frustration, there was still relief in the air around the No. 8 car postrace. The result is Busch’s second top-five finish of the season and first since Round No. 2 at Atlanta where he finished third in the classic three-wide finish.

And despite not being the victor he always strives to be on Sunday, Busch was happy to see a stable result following an eight-race span that saw five finishes of 20th or worse.

“Everything is week-to-week,” he said. “You just have to keep working at it week-to-week. It can be different every week. I’m sure the No. 9 [Chase Elliott] didn’t think they were capable or ready for a win yet and they got one a couple weeks ago.

“Just keep putting yourself up front and in position and doing what you need to do for that.”

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