Kyle Busch was coming fast, but Chase Elliott was faster.
Jumping to fourth place in Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch had 15 laps to pull out his first win of 2020 – albeit a non-point event.
And after making quick work of Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, it was Elliott and Busch one-on-one for the $1 million.
Though a gallant effort, Busch couldn’t reel in driver No. 9 and finished second in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“I just tried, and I think we inched up a little closer on [Elliott], but that was about it,” he said. “The M&M’s Camry, we’re trying hard and we’re running OK. It seemed like we were mired in 10th most of tonight and then the last couple adjustments really helped us. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) did a great job helping the car and making it better.
“I got a good restart. I think I went from 12th all the way up to fifth so that was a huge bonus for us getting that track position.”
Going for his second win in the event, Busch had to settle for what was his second runner-up finish (the first in 2011) and sixth top-five in 14 All-Star Race appearances.
“Overall, just have to keep fighting,” he said. “I think that’s four or five second places this year, what do you do? We just have to keep going. We’ll go fight next week.”
Busch hoped the outside lane would be of better use across the 140 laps of racing. Though trying to salvage speed from the high side in Turns 3,4, he couldn’t make it work.
“It just wasn’t quite wide enough,” he said of the groove. “If it had been a little bit wider and you could carry a little more speed with it, I might have had a chance. I tried to run up there early in the last stage to make it go a little earlier than I probably should have. I went back down because I knew I wasn’t going to catch him [Chase Elliott] or pass him there and I had to do something different.
“I just had to try something different than what we were doing. I don’t know. I still felt like I had to drive 110 percent to even make that finish happen. Just second. That’s it.”