Kyle Busch conceded the victory last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and admitted that Kevin Harvick whopped the field. But after Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway, Busch felt a little differently.
“I thought our Skittles Sweet Heat Camry was really good,” Busch said. “Adam [Stevens, crew chief] and the guys made some awesome changes overnight because we weren’t that good yesterday, and proud to come home second. But now it’s starting to get frustrating.”
Sunday was the second consecutive week in which Busch was the runner-up, both times to Kevin Harvick. Dating back to the end of the 2017 season, it was the third time in five races Busch finished second.
“Throughout much of the race today I actually managed to outrace the 4 [Harvick] and beat him,” said Busch. “There with [Denny Hamlin], when the 11 was holding up the 4 I had an opportunity to get to his outside and make a three-way battle for the lead and overtake the 4 before the 4 got clear of traffic.
“Once the 4 gets clear of traffic and gets in his own air, it’s hard to beat that guy. I was trying to count on that happening again with [Chase Elliott], hoping that the 9 would hold him up just long enough for me to get there. I was rushing to get there and I feel like I burned my stuff up by doing that, but once the 4 got out front, he was in his own air and just picking off traffic.
“There was nothing I could do with that, he was too fast to beat. I felt like if we were in his shoes and it was the other way around, we probably would have been the same way.”
The roles were almost reversed. Busch led 128 of 312 laps in the Ticket Guardian 500 and won the first stage. Going into the final pit stops of the day under green flag conditions, Busch was leading Harvick.
However, the No.18 team had the jack fall as they went to change the left side tires. The lost time cost Busch on track, as he cycled out behind Elliott and Harvick. Harvick got around Elliott and drove away, managing enough of a gap that Busch could never overcome.
“We lost the race on pit road today,” said Busch. “There’s been races where I’ve won it on pit road, too. We’ll just have to go into next week and see what we can do there.”