Kyle Busch. (HHP/Tom Copeland)

Busch, Keselowski Come Up Empty, Again

For Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, the two best drivers who have never won the Daytona 500 appeared to be closing in on winning the biggest race in the NASCAR Cup Series.

But, as usual, both are leaving Daytona disappointed.

Both drivers were involved in the massive crash in turn two that ended the longest Daytona 500 in history. Once Kyle Larson was turned around, it sent his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet into the path of the hard chargers desperately trying to win the Daytona 500.

Nine cars were involved in the sparks flying, fire erupting mess in turn two including Busch and Keselowski.

Different year, same story.

“I just tried to keep it straight as much as I can and wait for when it’s going to happen and eventually it does, and it did again today,” Busch said, referring to yet another big crash in the Daytona 500. “I tried, and I don’t know what else to do.  Came up short. 

“I led lap 200 and wish it was still 1998 rules.”

Back in 1998, the late Dale Earnhardt scored his only Daytona 500 victory in a race that ended under caution. If it weren’t for NASCAR’s cruel and often wretched overtime rule, Busch would have been celebrating in victory lane instead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Busch leaves Daytona International Speedway after a 19th place finish, eager to get to what he considers a regular race track – the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway at Fontana, California.

“Yeah, definitely excited for the start of the season and getting to the real race tracks,” Busch said.

Keselowski left Daytona International Speedway without a comment.

Brad Keselowski came up short again at Daytona. (HHP/Andrew Coppley)

As the laps were winding down in Sunday’s 65th Daytona 500, it had the makings of an RFK Racing sweep.

Chris Buescher had settled his No. 17 Ford Mustang behind teammate Keselowski, who was leading the race and trying to make sure one of the two RFK cars made it to victory lane.

Buescher made it to the finish, but fourth was a disappointment compared to the promise that the team had in the closing laps of the contest.

“We were up front a lot of the day between both of our cars and there is a ton to be proud of,” Buescher said. “I can’t thank everyone back at RFK enough. The Fastenal Mustang was quick, and I love that.

“We just got a little behind there in the first overtime and survived the next one. Somehow, we made it through all of that and picked up all kinds of spots.

“Ultimately even getting back to fourth, it should feel good, but I feel like we had more in us today and just weren’t able to hoist that trophy up.”

William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports was in the pack of cars charging through turn one with a chance to draft his way to the front. But his car was swallowed up in the massive crash.

“I got into the 8 (Kyle Busch) and we just got off center somehow and I wrecked him,” Byron said. “Once he got off center, I tried to back up, but I had the 6 in the back of me trying to push as well. Yeah, unfortunate because we were trying to put ourselves in the right position and we were in a really good spot there with about two to go and running third before that caution.  It seemed like when they did the teammate restart it really checked up the bottom lane and I had made my bed of trying to take that lane to have momentum off turn two. 

“That was unfortunate.”

Young Harrison Burton was in front for nine laps, as late as lap 187.

Burton wasn’t part of the last lap crash because he was part of the previous incident that involved 13 cars in turn three on lap 204.

The Wood Brothers Racing driver finished 26th.

Harrison Burton (21), involved in a late-race accident. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

“I am just disappointed,” Burton said. “We were leading with 18 to go and I feel like we had a shot. It just didn’t go our way.

“The outside just didn’t really get rolling and we didn’t get organized very well and by the time we did it was just a little too late. I feel like when the 22 (Logano) pulled up in front of me I tried to slow down to engage him, and I got hit by the 8 (Busch) really hard and send the 22 three-wide and we lost momentum again.

“I don’t know why I got out of shape off turn four, but I about wrecked off four. Then you’re buried in the back trying to make moves to get back up and when they wreck you are just right in the way.

“It is frustrating. I felt like we executed our race well.

“Just sucks not to win for sure.”

Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports was another driver that was involved in the last crash of the race that ended it with the yellow and checkered flag because the field had already taken the white flag.

“It looked like some guys got tangled up, upfront,” Elliott explained. “Those of us in the back were just scattering to kind of miss it. It looked like the No. 5 (Kyle Larson) and the No. 43 (Erik Jones) kind of went to the apron.

“By the time we got slowed up, they were coming back across the track, and I was the lucky winner to get there first.

“It’s a bummer. Long ways to go.

“Hate to end the day, but it is what it is.”