Kyle Busch drove from 31st to a third-place finish at Watkins Glen, doing so without the aid of cautions in the final 32 laps.
“I drove my ass off, and I had a fast racecar, and I put on a clinic,” Busch said. “We move on. We go to next week.”
Through the first two stages, Busch and Go Bowling at The Glen winner Chase Elliott waged a furious battle for the lead, swapping the top spot three times. Elliott got the best of Busch in stage two, and also led a race-high 52 laps.
However, Busch was in control when the final caution of the race flew on Lap 55. Busch entered and left pit road as the leader, but he was called back in when his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team realized they had not fueled the car because something had gone wrong.
“Pit road mistakes two years in a row,” Busch said. “Not sure what happened, part failure or something. Not what we need there to be able to run up front with the 9 [Elliott] and the 78 [Martin Truex Jr.] and put pressure on them. I thought we were as good as the 9 there. That time he got a run on me I let him go, and then he drove away from me, surprisingly, but then on the next restart, I had enough to hold him off.
“So, I felt like we were equal to him if not maybe a tick better than him. But doesn’t matter. We had to restart in the back and drove our ass off with no cautions all the way to third. That’s it.”
After the race crew chief Adam Stevens still didn’t know what caused the fuel issue.
“One of two things happened,” he said. “One, we had a fuel probe break, or the gas man didn’t get it lined up and somehow got fuel on the vent and wouldn’t put fuel in the car. It’s one of those two things, and we just won’t know until we take the parts apart and look at it. Can’t finish the race with eight gallons of fuel when you need a full tank.”
Busch finished seventh at Watkins Glen a year ago following a rally in that race. The dominant car in 2017, Busch had to make an extra pit stop for a loose wheel and as he made his way through the field collided with Brad Keselowski in the bus stop.
Busch started second Sunday afternoon and led 31 laps.
“Just a good day for us and our M&M’s Camry; we had a fast racecar and knew that from the first lap of practice,” Busch said. “But just didn’t execute all day, that’s what it takes. Two years in a row we had pit road failures, mishaps, bad luck, whatever you want to call it, and all we can come out here with is a podium.”