Kyle Busch takes a bow after his victory at Auto Club Speedway. (HHP/David Graham)

Take A Bow: Busch Wins At Auto Club, First With RCR

FONTANA, Calif. — It only took two starts for Kyle Busch to get acclimated to his new ride at Richard Childress Racing.

Busch, aboard the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, scored his first career victory with RCR at Auto Club Speedway in the Pala Casino 400, breaking a winless streak that dated back to last April in the Bristol (Tenn.) Dirt Race. 

“I think it’s just phenomenal,” Busch said. “I can’t thank Richard (Childress) and Judy (Childress) enough. I can’t thank Austin (Dillon) for calling me and getting me talking and getting me this opportunity to be able to come over here to RCR and be a part of Chevrolet and be able to race this Lucas Oil Camaro today, to be able to put it up front like that, man.

“The guys did a great job, Randall (Burnett, crew chief), everybody that has worked so hard during the off-season. We’ve done a lot of sim stuff, we’ve done a lot of testing in general just with trying to get up to speed, systems and all that sort of stuff. But man, there’s nothing more rewarding than being able to go to victory lane.”

In the fall of 2005, Busch notched his first career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club. Nearly 18 years later, Sunday’s win was his 61st triumph. 

Busch celebrates in victory lane. (Steve Himelstein Photo)

“I think it ranks high just because it ranks to the fact of I can do it,” Busch said. “I never doubted myself, but sometimes you do. You kind of get down on it, you wonder what’s going on and what’s happening and you put yourself in a different situation and you’re able to come out here and reward your guys. It’s not about me always winning but it’s about the guys.

“I’ve been with a lot of great people that have given me a lot of great opportunities in my career, so it’s awesome to be able to reward them.

“I’m going to enjoy it for sure, and hopefully there’s many more left to go.”

The win extended Busch’s streak to 19 consecutive seasons with at least one win in the Cup Series, breaking a tie with Richard Petty for the most all-time.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished runner-up, followed by Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. 

In his final season, Kevin Harvick scored a top five at his home track in fifth.

After being given a two-lap penalty for losing a wheel on pit road, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. overcame adversity to finish just outside the top 10 in 11th. 

As It Happened

Early on, 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson faced electrical issues, putting the No. 5 team behind the wall for a handful of laps. Larson would finish 15 laps down in 29th. 

On lap 83, a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch coming to the restart ended the days of Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece and Aric Almirola. William Byron and Brad Keselowski escaped major damage to continue. 

“Yeah, just the same thing that everybody already said – you can’t see what’s going on,” Bell said. “You are just going off the guy in front of you and all of sudden he slows down and I got into him, and other guys got into me.”

Busch (8), gets a push from Ross Chastain. (Steve Himelstein Photo)

Preece voiced his displeasure, after a second consecutive DNF to kickoff his season aboard the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“It’s kind of stupid, to be honest with you on a professional level and we all wreck on a restart,” Preece said. “I don’t know what happened, but just a victim of circumstances. It sucks. I was racing around Aric and we were just trying to be smart and get to the end of the race. 

“Something like that, you’re not expecting everyone to wreck coming to the restart line. It’s unfortunate. That adjustment could have gotten us a lot better and we could have kept on making little gains. That was our goal, not to beat ourselves and just be there in the last 50 or 60.

“That’s why we stayed out that run, to see what our car would do in clean air and if we needed to work on it, which we did, and I felt like we just kept on making it better and better. 

“It’s really a bad ending for this HaasTooling Ford Mustang, and even Aric, so we just have to go to Vegas and be on offense and start digging out of this hole we’re in right now.” 

The final restart came on lap 146, with Busch and Chastain leading the field to the green flag. Team Penske’s Joey Logano darted below the two, forcing a three-wide scenario into turn one. 

Chastain would get around both drivers, while Busch would momentarily falter behind a gaggle of cars.

However, Busch would make it three-wide during the green flag run to bolt from fifth to second. 

Green flag pit stops would ensue shortly after, with Busch blending back to the lead with 21 laps to go for the final time. 

Chastain swept the opening two stages on the two-mile oval.