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Kyle Busch Enjoying Promising Start at Richard Childress Racing

The win on Sunday in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet was a huge boost for the entire RCR organization and for Busch


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Over decades competing in NASCAR’s premier Cup Series, team owner Richard Childress has learned the art of “cool and collected” – of the confident, ‘I knew we could do it,’ to his driver and team on the radio seconds after taking a checkered flag; of the never-rushed, deliberate path to congratulate his race-winning driver and hoist a trophy.

It was textbook Childress Sunday afternoon at California’s Auto Club Speedway where Kyle Busch earned his first NASCAR Cup Series win as an RCR driver in only his second points race for his new team.

In Busch’s mind, his first trophy with the team could have come in his debut at The Clash in Los Angeles – he finished third. Or maybe legitimately in the season-opening Daytona 500 – he was leading at lap 200, the “scheduled” last lap before a caution came out.

READ MORE: Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing Prove to be Winning Combination at Auto Club Speedway

Unquestionably the win on Sunday in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet was a huge boost for the entire RCR organization and for Busch, who moves to RCR’s Chevrolet after winning two NASCAR Cup Series championships in a 15-year tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota.

Truth be told, a triumph felt a little inevitable. It wasn’t so much that there was something to “prove” but something to “affirm.” Childress invested his heart and his pocketbook to bring the 37-year-old Busch onto his team. And Busch has been all about a fresh start and the opportunity to remind he’s still Championship Caliber with capital “Cs.”

Busch insisted post-race that he didn’t “expect” to win this quickly with his new team. But he also was not too surprised.

Race Results: 2023 Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway

“I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern,” Busch conceded. “But also, on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their [RCR] results and success that they had last year with [co-driver] Austin [Dillon]. He ran second here last year and [former RCR driver Tyler] Reddick was super, super fast.

“It’s just been really, really cool and it’s been a great piece of – we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR. So I can’t say enough about Austin giving me a call, first and foremost, but then Richard and Judy [Childress] giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”

For those that have followed the sport there is a certain competitive irony to this pairing. There is the famous, “hold my watch” moment a decade ago when Childress was so infuriated with Busch during a race weekend he wanted to take matters into his own hands.

Yet if everyone was being generously honest, Childress’ longtime driver, a certain seven-time series champion and first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer, the late Dale Earnhardt shared a few ‘similar’ competitive traits with Busch during his legendary career. Neither could ever be counted out of a race.

That may be duly noted by many of the RCR team’s most loyal longtime fans, who at one time may have booed Busch, the winningest overall NASCAR driver of his generation – 61 NASCAR Cup Series wins, a record 102 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and a record 111 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories. They were certainly applauding and high-fiving Sunday, however, as Busch began his Childress tenure with a signature double bow to the crowd after the win.

“Yeah, man, Rowdy Nation is growing, loud and proud,” a smiling Busch said, acknowledging the warmer-than-normal reception. “Watch out, we’re going to take over.

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Yeah, man, Rowdy Nation is growing, loud and proud. Watch out, we’re going to take over.

Kyle Busch

“It’s just fun to see them and to give them something to cheer for again and to have an opportunity like today to win a race this early in the season, get everybody juked up and excited and also continue to hopefully have more races like this where we’re able to win and get some of those Playoff points, kind of stockpile them a little bit so we can have a good time at the end of the year.”

This win felt different. It was different – even beyond the significant milestones it represented (225th overall NASCAR victory and 19th consecutive season with a win, which breaks the all-time record held by NASCAR legend Richard Petty).

It was a statement of promise and of reclaimed expectation. For both Childress and Busch.

“I thought about Richard and Judy and the chance that they’ve taken on putting me in their race car and letting me go out there and drive,” Busch said of taking in the moment during the Victory Lane celebration.

“It’s just been super, super rewarding so far each week, even though we haven’t won to just be a part of the conversation and be in the mix. I hope that we’re able to repay them a lot over this year and the next few years to come because I decided it’s all said and done.

“But just great conversation with him [Sunday night]. He was like, ‘man, this is the first of many.’ And I think one of the other things he said was, he should me his hat, his Chevy hat he has in Victory Lane each year. Whenever they win races they always put the track and the driver signature of where the wins were.

“Hopefully we get to fill that thing up.”

-Photo credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

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