CONCORD, N.C. – With just two top 10s in the last nine races, Kyle Busch entered Sunday’s (Oct. 8) elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL dead last in the playoff standings. With a 26-point deficit, a win on Sunday looked to be the only avenue of advancement for the No. 8 team.
Busch qualified fifth and ran inside the top five throughout the day by sacrificing stage points for track position. He finished third after 109 laps, but it was two spots short of advancement behind winner AJ Allmendinger and runner-up William Byron.
Busch had high praise for Allmendinger, who has now recorded either a NASCAR Cup Series or Xfinity Series win at the ROVAL in five consecutive seasons.
“But the No. 16, he’s a great road racer,” Busch said. I’d call him ‘Mr. ROVAL’, if you will, he wins here all the time. He’s super good here and knows how to do this stuff, so they earned it today for sure.”
And while Busch was eliminated from title contention in his first playoff run with Richard Childress Racing, the third-place finish marked the first top five for the No. 8 team since Richmond Raceway in July.
“The resilience of the team is by far greater than mine, probably,” Busch said. “I’ve put ourselves in a lot of bad spots and they’ve just come to work on Monday and battled through it and given us another good car to go the next week with.
“So, a lot of it rides on me just getting sloppy, not doing a very good job and – I’m not making excuses – but trying to figure this car out, you know? I just lose the balance of it, did it again today. Was able to get a third out of it, but it probably would’ve been worse off than that if it wasn’t for the track position.”
Busch was running second behind Allmendinger until a rash of cautions with 15 to go allowed Byron to get by on the ensuing restart. If the race had run green to the end, did Busch feel that he had a chance against Allmendinger?
“Maybe. I don’t know, I don’t think so. I would have had to have moved him for sure. I would have had to have moved him in a chicane where it would have made him go have to stop, so then he wouldn’t come back and retaliate.
“But [the bumper] is a tool to use if you can get there and use it. I was hoping William [Byron] was going to use it, but he’s got too many wins already, so he didn’t care. But yeah, just racing.”
And despite floating around use of the bumper, Busch never felt the urge to force the issue.
“I was trying to do what the car gave me,” Busch said. “I was overstepping that a couple more times again, but I didn’t crash, which is good. But if I was doing desperation stuff, I would have pile-drove everybody into turn 1 on one of them restarts.
Busch will look the finish the 2023 season on a high note, starting with Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday (Oct. 15). He recorded a 14th-place finish at the track in March.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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