All the Ways Winning Bristol Was Huge for Kyle Busch

Rowdy matches Richard Petty with 18 consecutive seasons with a Cup Series win.


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Sitting under caution with 70 laps remaining in the Bristol Dirt Race, but sitting sixth in the running order, Kyle Busch knew he had a rare for this season race winning car.

Stupid circumstances.

"I'm better than every single one of these <expletives> in front of me," Busch said over his team radio. "It's all lane choice."

Well, one caveat.

"I take it back," Busch said. "The 14 is the best car."

Chase Briscoe drove like it over the final 70 laps too. The rain kept coming down, again bringing the race to a dramatic halt with 28 laps remaining but more importantly, leaving a tremendously slick Bristol Motor Speedway in its wake.

It was going to take elite race craft to get the job done, and maybe a textbook World of Outlaws slider, but that’s not what happened. Instead, Briscoe fed Reddick his right rear right out of a Sprint Car pass gone wrong and it sent both leaders around four seconds ahead of Busch.

The seas parted.
The best car was wiped out.

Fortuitous circumstances!

Busch backed into a win in the same kind of way he has accused Alex Bowman of doing over the past three years and all that remained was for Rowdy to embrace it.

"The final corner was total chaos, I guess," Busch said. "We were able to make it through and steal a win, back into one, whatever you want to call it. It feels good to get one here in this Next Gen car. It feels good to win on dirt.

"A lot of caveats."

Sure, okay, but they all count the same and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team really needed something like this.

Not too dissimilar to their teammates at the No. 11 team after they won at Richmond Raceway two weeks ago, Busch hasn’t been terrible, but they are driving for the worst performing manufacturer through 10 races compounded by some really awful luck.

All the caveats in the world don’t change what winning means -- making the playoffs and just creating a positive narrative in a season that has presented a lot of challenges to one of the absolute all-time greats.

"With what a struggle our year has been, did we deserve this one, yeah," Busch said. "We ran up front all night, we were in contention and that was great. I’ll take that. We have a lot of work to do to win more races and be in contention each and every week.

Take out the superspeedway style races at Daytona and Atlanta, alongside the close call competitive races at Las Vegas and Richmond, and the No. 18 has been a definition mid-pack car that’s had to work way too hard to break into top-15.

Maybe spinning out on the last lap at Circuit of the Americas was bad luck. Maybe it was self-induced. It’s largely been a miserable experience for Busch in 2022 and he’s worn it on his face more than usual.

"It’s just not been our typical Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota having speed every week," Busch said.

A win on a dirt track where the leaders crashed in front of him doesn’t change any of that, but it certainly takes the pressure off. It affords David Wilson, Coy Gibbs and Ben Beshore the patience and flexibility to work with the No. 11 team and figure out how to take that next step as an organization.

"We (both) got lucky," Busch said. "… I wouldn't say that these two wins are indicative of how good we are. We're fortunate to have gotten these wins to be in the Playoffs. Again, we still got to better all of our programs and be stronger as a unit."

Meanwhile, the win was special for Busch from a personal-professional standpoint too, as this was the 18th consecutive year that he has won a race. That distinction ties him with the legendary Richard Petty as the only drivers to accomplish the feat.

It’s a testament to his longevity and adaptability, even as he laments driving on dirt, that he has enjoyed the staying power to thrive across four generations of cars, three championship formats and two decades at the highest level.

"To me, it's a long time, 18 years," Busch said. "The biggest thing to me is just having that opportunity and being thankful for my chances with Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe (Gibbs), Coy; everybody at M&Ms, Interstate Batteries having my back over this long a time, keeping me in the seat.

"But a lot of different people to work with, a lot of different cars we've gone through, a lot of things that we have done and won races in in those years."

At 36 years old, Busch hopes this is more the middle of his career than the end of it, and that's why he's holding himself and everyone around him to such a huge standard in this year of transition to the Next Gen car.

"Yes, the 18 is important, but I feel like I'm in the prime of my career and I would love to be running up front and dominating and winning races and contending for championships," Busch said. "That's our ultimate goal."

And to stay there, Busch will have to be a little 'Rowdy,' a little 'KFB' and maybe a little lucky too.

All the greats were.

It’s why Coy Gibbs wants Busch driving his family’s cars.

"I think this was a testament to Kyle," Gibbs said. "He fights every lap. He always has. Whether the car is good, bad, doesn't matter. He's always fighting for us. It paid off tonight."