TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Kyle Busch used miscommunication with his Richard Childress Racing crew to win at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday in double overtime and under caution.
It was the second win of the season for Busch in his new No. 8 Chevrolet and second career victory at Talladega — 15 years apart. The two-time Cup champion didn’t even lead his first laps of the race until the start of second overtime.
It was the 13th win for RCR at Talladega, and team owner Richard Childress entered the post-race news conference carrying an open bottle of champagne from his vineyard.
But as the race headed toward additional laps, Busch’s crew chief made a late call for Busch to come in for some gas. The message was received too late and Busch had to save fuel just to ensure he could complete another two-lap sprint.
Bubba Wallace surged past him into the lead from the outside line but was turned by Ryan Blaney to trigger a multi-car crash that automatically ended the race.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky. Some of these races come down to that,” Busch said. “You’ve got to take them when they come to your way. The seas kind of parted there when they went up the race track. I saw (Wallace) turn just a little bit sideways and I was like, ‘Get out of the way! Just miss it and try to see if I was ahead of (Blaney) by the time it was called.’”
Busch still had to make it all the way around the track to take the checkered flag, with his crew urging him to “Save! Save! Save!” his fuel.
He finally seemed out of gas when he attempted to do a victory burnout.
“We were sweating it being close … and I’m like, ‘We’ve got to gamble. We’re up here.’ You’ve got to take the track position when you have it and go get what you can on the restarts and see what happens. And lo and behold, it worked out. So knock on wood for this one.”
NASCAR had to examine the final finishing order as Busch celebrated at the finish line. There were 57 lead changes.
Blaney for Team Penske was scored second and seemed frustrated with Wallace, his close friend, for blocking him on the final lap.
“In my mind you kind of triple move like that, triple block, and you can’t block three times,” Blaney said. “Runs are just so big, and as the leader with Bubba, he’s trying to block which is the right thing to do, but I think he kind of moved three times. You don’t really get a lot of those. I’ve got to go somewhere.”
Wallace, who had team owner Michael Jordan watching from his pit stand, accepted responsibility.
“Close, close, close block,” he said. “Not (Blaney’s) fault. I honestly thought that he would leave me high and dry coming back around. Hate it I caused that one. Man, I thought it would play out a little different, obviously not getting wrecked.”
Chase Briscoe from Stewart-Haas Racing was third, followed by Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski of RFK Racing as Ford drivers were second through fifth.
Erik Jones of Legacy Motor Club was sixth in a Chevrolet, followed by William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports and finally Christopher Bell, the highest-finishing Toyota driver at eighth.
The race was far tamer than the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, when two cars went airborne and Blaine Perkins remained hospitalized Sunday after his car barrel-rolled at least six times in a crash-fest.
The Cup stars were much cleaner Sunday and the first multi-car accident didn’t occur until 48 laps remaining when Noah Gragson ran into the back of Harrison Burton, the leader at the time, to trigger a five-car crash.
The next caution was with five laps remaining when Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gave Corey Lajoie a big push that rammed Lajoie into Joey Logano and sent Logano spinning into the wall. That sent the race to its first overtime, which was an immediate disaster.
Ross Chastain shoved his car into the middle for a third lane and his car bounced off Gragson, who hit the wall to trigger the crash. Kyle Larson was knocked into the grass and his car shot back into the middle of traffic for a full-contact hit of Ryan Preece.
That seventh caution sent Kevin Harvick, pole-sitter Denny Hamlin and Chastain to pit road for fuel to ensure they could compete in second overtime. As the cars rolled around the 2.66-mile speedway under caution, Blaney radioed his Team Penske crew he didn’t think he had enough gas to make it to the finish.
But when the race went green, it was Ty Gibbs who was out of gas and he immediately pulled out of line. Busch surged into the lead. Wallace briefly pushed ahead until he was spun by Blaney.
NASCAR races next Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Chase Elliott is the defending race winner.
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