We had another helluva NASCAR Cup Series race today at Las Vegas.
Kyle Busch had to start in the back of the field after wrecking his car during practice, and his team had to rush to prepare a backup car that was actually meant to be used as spare parts for the Joe Gibbs Racing teams this weekend.
But Kyle’s #18 Toyota was fast from the drop of the green flag, and despite a spin early in the race, he found himself leading the field after a caution when the race went back to green with 41 laps to go.
Busch managed to fight off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. in a fierce battle for the lead, and looked to have the race in hand until a wreck by Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace brought out the caution with just 3 laps to go.
Whoa … 😳 … Erik Jones slams the wall and then Bubba Wallace hooks it hard left to miss slamming into the 43. pic.twitter.com/R8eOIQDkjX
With just two overtime laps left to go, the entire field came down pit road to get new tires and adjust their car for the sprint to the finish.
Busch and Truex Jr., along with most of the field, took 4 fresh tires during their pit stop. But the three Hendrick Motorsports cars of Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman and William Byron chose to only change two tires, and came out on the track in the top three spots, leaving Busch back in 4th.
On the final restart, Larson and Bowman battled side by side for the win before Bowman pulled away coming out of the final turn and took the checkered flag over his teammate. And a disappointed Busch had to settle for a 4th-place finish.
In his postrace interview, Busch was clearly disappointed with how the end of the race played out, but did his best to remain positive:
“Trying to just do what I could to hold the lead there with Truex. Felt like I inched away finally and we were coming to the white or something, I don’t know what it was. But anyways, wasn’t meant to be, not our day. See you next week.”
But on the radio after the checkered flag flew, Busch had some choice words for the race winner, Alex Bowman:
“The same fucking guy who backsinto every fucking win that he ever fucking gets backsinto another fucking win. Bullshit!”
Kyle Busch reaction to Bowman winning: "The same fucking guy who backs into every fucking win that he ever fucking gets backs into another fucking win. Bullshit!"
Now, Bowman has seven wins in his Cup Series career, so it’s not really fair to say that he’s backed into every one of those. Like last season at Dover when he led the final 96 laps of the race to take the win. Or at Martinsville when Bowman knocked Denny Hamlin out of the way in the final laps, a move that left Hamlin fuming so much that he drove back to the finish line and blocked Bowman from doing burnouts after the checkered flag.
But I see why Kyle would be frustrated. He was on his way to a win, and if it hadn’t been for the final caution and some pit strategy from the Hendrick teams, he probably would have been in Victory Lane.
That’s not Alex Bowman’s fault though. And at the end of the day, the win counts whether he “backed into it” or not.