Race Weekend Central

Kyle Busch Frustrated Over Mid-Race Wreck with Kyle Larson

MADISON, Ill. — For Kyle Busch, the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season hasn’t exactly been the best time for him. Entering Sunday’s (June 2) Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway, he was 14th in points with two top five and five top-10 finishes. The past two races saw him finish on the lead lap, but struggle for most of the day.

The weekend in Illinois seemed to start OK, but he was not pleased by qualifying 10th. In his post-qualifying bullpen session, he was short and curt, stating that he had no grip in his No. 8 Rebel Bourbon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, no matter what his crew did to the car.

With the complete change in weather conditions Sunday, Busch had the opposite issue. He was now very loose but tried to work with it to the best of his abilities.

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Busch was in position to claim some all-important points in stage two Sunday when he ended up in a battle with Kyle Larson for seventh. The two drivers made contact on the frontstretch. Then, disaster struck in turn 1.

Busch’s car was significantly damaged after the squeeze play into the wall. While he drove it back to the pits, the day was over for the two-time Cup champion.

Meanwhile, Larson continued racing despite rear-end damage and eventually finished 10th. Busch was not happy with Larson afterward but didn’t outright attack him.

“It looked like [Larson] got loose, I guess,” Busch said outside the infield care center. “He was on older tires [and] trying to get us for a spot. Not sure what a single point was going to mean for him, but it certainly hurt us a lot.”

Busch’s comment on the single point refers back to the ongoing waiver story surrounding Larson regarding him failing to race in the Coca-Cola 600 due to rain. Busch made his opinion on that issue known in simplest terms Saturday during his bullpen session.

Given the pit strategy in play during the final stage of the race on Sunday, he had some potential for a good finish. Busch was on the same strategy as race winner Austin Cindric. He last pitted on lap 114 during the caution for Josh Berry‘s crash.

At the time of the crash, Busch was running two seconds behind Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Both those drivers finished in the top five Sunday, despite running very different strategies.

Busch likely would have stayed out during the stage caution that would have happened anyway without the crash. As a result, he would have restarted fourth behind all three Team Penske Fords. From there, he would have had to keep on strategy, not run into fuel issues and race strong. The result could have been a finish in the top five.

After the race, Larson took a conciliatory tone during the post-race bullpen overall. However, he insisted that every point matters on pit road.

With Cindric winning Sunday, the hunt to get into the playoffs just became that much harder for Busch. Cindric entered the race 20th in points, 96 points out of the playoffs on points. The win means that the last driver in the playoffs on points is now 14th-place Chris Buescher. Had Busch had a typical day for this season, he probably would either have that spot or he might be ahead of it.

Instead, Busch’s crash on Sunday dropped him back to 17th in the points. He’s 20 points behind Buescher with 11 races remaining in the regular season. Buescher also has the tiebreaker over Busch because of his two second-place finishes. There’s time to make up that margin, but having to jump over three drivers is not necessarily an easy feat. That’s also assuming that there aren’t any more new winners who are outside of the playoff positions on points.

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2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Carl D.

A racing deal. Stuff happens.

DoninAjax

When a driver “races” a certain way he shouldn’t be surprised when it bites him in the a$$.

Bob

Well they all “race” that way, so you can get off of your knees now.

RCFX1

Larson was inside and got loose. It happens all the time.

Michael

KYLE BUSCH IS ONE OF THE BEST DRIVERS IN.NASCAR HE IS MY FAVORITE DRIVER ❤ AM SURE KYLE LARSON DIDN’T MEAN TO WRECK MY DRIVER BUT IT JUST HARD RACING SO IT,S ALL GOOD

Wildcatsfan2016

Kyle appeared to pinch Larson down. The 5 got loose and they wrecked. It happens.

Kevin in SoCal

That hit barely looked like a Darlington stripe. Bummer that it messed up the suspension and he DNF.

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