Kyle Busch believes his race and championship were lost Sunday night because of the battle he had with Joey Logano.
“Just wasting too much time with him. He held me up,” Busch said after finishing second to Martin Truex Jr. “He was blocking every chance he got, so… got a real buddy there. But that’s racing. That’s what happens.”
Crew chief Adam Stevens had set up his No. 18 team to beat the competition by making one less pit stop. Busch pitted on Lap 215, much later than the competition. Had the race stayed green, Busch would not have had to come back down pit road while others did.
The strategy move would have put Busch at the front…except a caution because of debris from older brother Kurt’s car on Lap 229 negated the game plan.
“It did cost us track position, but I was all for it,” Busch said. “The last couple nights we’ve seen NASCAR leave it green, and they let them race it out, so I thought that was going to be kind of the strategy, but I guess when you’re going to win by 12 seconds or something, then you’d better get a caution when you can get one.
“I don’t know if there was really stuff out there. I didn’t see anything out there. I don’t know what was the leading cause to throwing the caution, but it’s always inevitable. It’s always going to happen. So, I guess that just – we just didn’t think of it, and it bit us.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had a car he and Stevens knew was better on the race’s longer runs. Truex and Kevin Harvick restarted on the front row on the final restart with 34 laps to go. Behind them, Busch battled Logano for the third spot.
After getting around Logano with about 20 laps to go, Busch set his sights on Harvick. He took the runner-up spot with 17 laps to go and erased over a one-second lead to get to Truex.
By that point, however, Busch had used his tires up and could do nothing but chase Truex to the finish.
“It wasn’t quite what we wanted there at the end,” said Busch. “I just overused my stuff and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 [Logano] trying to get by him. Just overworked everything and got to the 4 [Harvick], got by him pretty quick. I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire left, but didn’t seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78.
“Thanks to all my guys, everybody on this M&M’s Caramel team. Our Toyota Camrys were fantastic this year. The work from TRD and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing has really come together and done a fantastic job. I feel really bad we come up a spot short, given I thought we had the best car today. I guess that’s why it’s called racing, and you’ve got to run it out.”