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Busch wrecked in Saturday’s practice and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team was forced to move to a backup car – but their backup was basically a “parts car” which didn’t even have an engine in it.
After eight hours of work involving members from all four JGR teams, Busch’s team got his backup ready for Sunday’s race but he had to start from the rear of the field.
The race got off to a slow start for Busch when he had to make an extended pit stop to fix an issue with his shifter. Then, Busch spun out in a multi-car incident on a restart on Lap 43.
But as Sunday’s race wound to its conclusion, Busch found himself out front and in a fierce duel with teammate Martin Truex Jr. for the win. Just as it looked like Busch would overcome all odds for the victory, a caution with two laps to go sent the race into overtime.
All the lead-lap cars elected to pit and three Hendrick Motorsports drivers were first off pit road taking only two new tires, while Busch was the first driver with four new tires.
Lining up behind Alex Bowman, he could never got back to the front and Bowman edged his Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson for the victory.
After taking the checkered flag, Busch was none-too-pleased with the result.
“The same (expletive) guy who backs into every (expletive) win that he ever (expletive) gets backs into another (expletive) win,” he said over his team radio.
By the time TV and other media caught up with him on pit road, however, Busch took a far more diplomatic response.
“It’s true testament to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. Really appreciate the No. 18 guys, my guys. But also the Nos. 11, 19, and 20 – all of them, for coming over, pitching in. Everybody had a hand in being able to make us go today,” Busch said.
“I really appreciate that. Great (car) today. Was good (and) fast there at the end.”
Asked about the dozen or so laps Busch spent fending off repeated challenges from Truex for the lead before the last caution, Busch said, “Trying to just do what I could to hold the lead there with Truex. Felt like I inched away finally, we were coming to the white (flag).
“I don’t know what it was. But anyways, wasn’t meant to be, not our day, see you next week.”