Monday, May 27, 2024

Kyle Busch scores first superspeedway win in 15 years

A McLaren car has technically won a race in 2023.

In his maiden race with sponsorship from McLaren Custom Grills (no relation to that McLaren), Kyle Busch secured his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway and on such tracks since 2008. He battled with Bubba Wallace for much of the overtime restart and Wallace seemed to have the momentum on the outside as he received a push from his friend Ryan Blaney, only for Wallace to make too aggressive of a block and trigger a five-car wreck that collected himself.

Busch inched ahead of Blaney on the inside to assume the lead when the caution came out to end the race. Interestingly, all three of Busch’s superspeedway wins in the Cup Series came after the races ended under yellow.

“Last time I won here, fifteen years ago, my first year with JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). Here we are with my first year in RCR (Richard Childress Racing) being able to get back into Victory Lane at Talladega,” commented Busch. “It’s been a little bit.

“We were obviously short on fuel, kind of stretching it. I don’t think we would have taken that chance, I probably wouldn’t have taken that chance of staying out but for the win in Fontana. That opened up our playbook, gave us a chance to be up front, restart up front and go for a win today.

“Just being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you got to be lucky.”

Blaney had led a race-high forty-seven laps but the late carnage and nature of superspeedway racing prevented him from clinching victory. As multi-car wrecks mounted in the third stage, fuel mileage became a major concern among the field as many elected to stay out instead of pit for gas prior to overtime. This move ultimately bit Ty Gibbs, who was fighting with Blaney with twenty laps to go, when he ran out coming to the restart.

Gibbs was among nine retirements, with everyone else being taken out in the string of Stage #3 crashes. One of the victims was Blaney’s team-mate Joey Logano, who got shuffled out of line with twenty laps remaining and bumped by Corey LaJoie to trigger seven-car accident. An even bigger crash occurred on the ensuing restart when Ross Chastain attempted to force himself into a three-abreast battle for the lead with Blaney and Noah Gragson but instead collided with Gragson, who was shot up the track.

The crash culminated in Kyle Larson sliding off the racing surface before coming back into the oncoming path of Ryan Preece, and the ensuing T-bone was so destructive that it shot Larson’s door bar up and sheared off part of his passenger’s side door. Said bar is typically covered by a metal plate intended to protect the cockpit from fire but is not built for such high-speed collisions.

Larson’s car was eventually taken to NASCAR’s Research & Development Centre for further evaluation.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 17 8 Kyle Busch Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 196 Running
2 5 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 196 Running
3 10 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 196 Running
4 4 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 196 Running
5 20 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 196 Running
6 24 43 Erik Jones Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 196 Running
7 18 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
8 6 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 196 Running
9 22 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 196 Running
10 28 36 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 196 Running
11 38 51 J.J. Yeley* Rick Ware Racing Ford 196 Running
12 29 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
13 27 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
14 32 77 Ty Dillon Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
15 33 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 196 Running
16 13 45 Tyler Reddick 23XI Racing Toyota 196 Running
17 1 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 196 Running
18 37 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
19 26 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 196 Running
20 36 15 Riley Herbst* Rick Ware Racing Ford 196 Running
21 11 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 196 Running
22 2 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 196 Running
23 23 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 196 Running
24 31 62 Austin Hill* Beard Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
25 34 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 196 Running
26 15 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 196 Running
27 7 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 196 Running
28 12 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 195 Accident
29 19 16 A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 195 Accident
30 8 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 195 Running
31 3 54 Ty Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 194 Fuel
32 30 42 Noah Gragson Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 189 Accident
33 9 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 189 Accident
34 16 41 Ryan Preece Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 189 Accident
35 21 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 189 Running
36 25 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 183 Accident
37 35 38 Zane Smith* Front Row Motorsports Ford 141 Accident
38 14 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 141 Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points