Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marked an exceptional showing for Joe Gibbs Racing, with Denny Hamlin coming away with the victory and Kyle Busch nabbing third place. Of course, Busch would’ve preferred to have switched places with his teammate as Hamlin celebrated in victory lane, but a third-place finish was nothing to scoff at for the No. 18 driver, especially considering everything he had to overcome, including contact with the wall early in the race and a loose wheel.
On the other hand, a win at the South Point 400 would have resulted in an automatic berth to the third round of the playoffs, and Busch definitely would’ve loved to have got it done at his hometown track.
“Certainly wish we could have gotten a win, obviously, to not worry about the next two races,” Busch said, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. “But it wasn’t meant to be.”
In his post-race interview on pit road, Busch added, “We got all we could. I felt like during the daytime, we were a little bit better than [Denny Hamlin]. We could race with him. I felt like I was looking forward to the lights coming on and us picking up speed and being able to rip the wall a little bit faster. When we got hit into the fence there off of [turn] two the first time, it definitely knocked speed out of our car.”
“We helped it a little bit coming to pit road putting the last set of tires on it and then I got into the fence again trying to get by a lapped car. Not enough room over there, I guess. Overall, great job by [crew chief Ben Beshore] and my guys on this M&M’s Camry. They gave me a good piece. We moved forward all day long so that was good and just appreciate TRD and Interstate Batteries, Rowdy Energy and Ethel M for being here from Las Vegas and all of those guys were here today. Good showing.”
Busch’s finish at Vegas puts him at third in the playoff standings, which is 22 points behind leader Kyle Larson. Heading into next week’s race at Talladega, Busch has a 35-point advantage above the cutline.
“I’ve said it, and I’ll say it all the time: if you can go to Talladega and you can come out of there with a 12th-place finish with no stage points, that’s a successful day,” Busch said. “I’ll take that right now if I could skip it.”
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