TALLADEGA, Ala. — Kyle Busch has to wonder what he has to do to win a race in the NASCAR Cup Series this year.
He has seen several chances to win slip away, from the scuffle with Joey Logano at Las Vegas to an untimely caution ruining what appeared to be a sure victory at Phoenix to a bum set of tires while he led at Martinsville to a commitment-line violation while he was in contention at Richmond to overtime Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s frustrating, but all in all, it’s good to get out of here in one piece,” Busch said.
As he drove his car on the cool-down lap, his team told him that they would try to get him a better car for the next restrictor-plate race. Although Busch did lead lap after lap after lap, it was apparent that Stenhouse, who sat on the pole, had a stronger car.
“He got a push off of [Turn] 2, I guess,” Busch said. “He got to my back bumper and actually hit me, and I thought that was going to shoot me forward. And he just turned left and passed me after hitting me. Pretty impressive.”
Busch wasn’t totally beaten at that point. He attempted to side-draft Stenhouse but didn’t have enough people pushing him to make the difference. He was the only Toyota at the front of the field that late in the race and the only Toyota to finish in the top 10.
Now it’s on to Kansas Speedway next week.
“It was just about retaliation to get back on him, and I just never had enough help from behind and just never got together. … We did all we could here today, and it’s all circumstantial on how you win these things,” Busch said.
“Unfortunately, our circumstances didn’t quite go our way, but we go to a real race track next week, and we’ll try to win there.”
Xfinity Series: No caution, Aric Almirola wins
NASCAR had to make a decision on the final lap of the Xfinity race at Talladega: throw the caution after a hard hit to the wall by Darrell Wallace Jr. on the backstretch or allow the drivers to race to the finish.
It opted to race to the finish.
Wallace, saying he felt the effects of the hard crash, was OK with the decision, though he had no clue about it before he was told by a reporter afterward.
“I thought they were a little delayed, but I needed a minute to catch my breath, so it all kind of timed out perfectly,” he said.
“If the caution came out sooner, we would have won the race,” Logano said. “I’m glad they let us race to the end. Selfishly, I wish the caution came out, but for the fans, I’m glad that it didn’t. We did everything that we could do.”
Almirola was probably happier with that decision.
“I was really worried that the caution was going to come out, especially when the 22 [of Logano] just barely got a nose ahead getting into Turn 3,” Almirola said. “I was like, ‘Come on, please don’t throw that caution,’ because I wanted to at least have a shot for us to race back to the start-finish line.”
Camping World Truck Series: Justin Haley comes off ARCA win
Justin Haley, who turned 18 a couple weeks ago, won the ARCA race Saturday at Talladega.
The win will be a little bit of a confidence boost for the truck race this weekend at Kansas. Haley, who drives for GMS Racing in trucks, missed the first two races of the season because he was under 18.
He is expected to get a waiver from the rule requiring attendance at every race weekend to get into the NASCAR playoffs, but NASCAR won’t make a final decision until seeing whether he becomes playoff-eligible.
“It would be great to get a playoff spot, but I think [our] main goal is just to do everything we can every week to win,” Haley said. “If we put our most effort in every single truck we put out there, and we all do our jobs, and we go out there and compete and win.
“I’m just going into every weekend trying to win that race, and if things fall into place, they fall into place. … I’m just trying to learn and go win races.”