Kyle Busch was in the right place at the right time on the final lap of the GEICO 500 at Talladega on Sunday afternoon (April 23). It was his second win of the season and his 62nd career win. Busch was the beneficiary after Ryan Blaney pushed Bubba Wallace too hard into turn 1 and caused the No. 23 Toyota to spin into the wall.
Busch had not won a race at Talladega since the spring of 2008. Incredibly, Busch was told to pit for fuel after the first overtime attempt. It was too late however, and Busch had to hope his fuel tank held out.
It certainly did.
The two time Cup Series champion seemed to understand full well how he was able to put his no. 8 in victory lane when talking to FOX Sports. “Sometimes you got to be lucky,” said Busch, with a wry smile.
“Some of these races come down to that, and you got to take them when they come your way. The seas kind of parted there and they (Blaney and Wallace) went up the racetrack … I saw the [No.] 23 get a little bit sideways and I said ‘get out of the way, just miss it,'” he continued.
“You get big runs and you take them when you can,” a dejected Blaney told FOX Sports, “I’m glad everyone is OK, but in my mind you can’t block three times … I got to go somewhere you know?”
It has now been 56 races since Blaney last won a points-paying Cup Series race.
Wallace didn’t disagree with Blaney. He took full blame for what happened on the final lap. “I threw a late block. Not the [No.] 12’s fault. I honestly thought he would leave me high and dry when we came back around, I just hate it for my team,” Wallace explained to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass.
Every driver in the field was worried about fuel mileage after the first attempt at overtime was unsuccessful. Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson tangled, resulting in huge hits for Ryan Preece and Kyle Larson. All drivers were OK and were able to climb from their cars.
Several contenders, including Ty Gibbs and Aric Almirola, ran out of fuel during the second overtime. Blaney was still able to finish second, with Chris Buescher, Chase Briscoe and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.
Chase Elliott snagged his first stage win of the season by winning stage one. He also very nearly won stage two, but Almirola edged him at the line for the stage win. The race was pretty light on incidents for a Talladega race, but each caution seemed to be worse than the last. The final incident was the biggest crash of the event. There were eight caution periods for a total of 34 laps.
Elliott would cross the line 12th after avoiding the final incident. Erik Jones, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top 10. Part-time driver for Rick Ware Racing JJ Yeley scored a season-best 11th-place finish on the day.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns next Sunday at Dover on FOX at 3 p.m. ET.
2023 GEICO 500 RACE RESULTS
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Congratulations to Kyle Busch and RCR. Boos and condemnations to NASCAR for this disastrous, unsafe pig Gen 7 car. If Larson had taken that hit on the drivers side he’d be in the hospital or the morgue.
I think a lot of people thought the exact same thing.