Sure, it was just one race — an exhibition race at that. But Richard Childress Racing came out guns blazing in Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum, Kyle Busch’s first race with the team.
When the dust settled from Martin Truex Jr.’s victory in the Clash, the RCR duo was right there with Busch’s former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate on the podium. Truex was awarded the special gold medal for the win. Austin Dillon brought home the silver medal. Busch had the bronze medal draped around his neck.
Close, but no cigar.
“We were damn close to starting it off right out of the gate,” Busch stated.
But even with the near-miss for RCR, there was a lot to be proud of at the end of the night for Dillon and Busch.
In an absolutely wild 150-lap race, which featured a grand total of 16 cautions, it certainly wasn’t a smooth path to the front for the RCR team. Especially Busch. The Las Vegas native was placed into the spin cycle by Joey Logano on Lap 86 of Sunday’s race.
LOGANO SPINS KYLE BUSCH!
— NASCAR on TSN (@NASCARonTSN) February 6, 2023
When asked how he was able to incredibly rebound from the back of the 27-car pack to finish in the medals, Busch had a very Busch-like response.
“I passed them,” Busch cracked.
Busch admitted that while he had an incredible drive back through the field, a rash of cautions down the stretch, for several drivers spinning ahead of him, made the seemingly Herculean task a little easier.
The hard-nosed racer had a hard time shaking off the incident with Logano. Even with the solid finish in his debut race for Richard Childress Racing.
“Yeah, Logano didn’t get hit by [anybody]. He just flat-out drove through me, so he’s got another one coming,” Busch pointed sharply. “I owe him a few.”
Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon Working Well Together
While the incident with Logano was definitely a massive frustration for Busch, the larger takeaway for the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is that RCR is building momentum and that he and Dillon are gelling as teammates very quickly.
“…Austin and I worked hard together today on, A, working together, but, B, all the information to put ourselves in the best possible spot,” Busch explained. “Good collaboration between the RCR bunch.”
Dillon agreed that he and Busch worked well in their first race together, and he even admitted that Busch cut him a break in the closing laps to give him a shot to get around Truex.
As a result, Dillon will have Busch’s kind gesture on his mind when the duo hits the high banks at Daytona International Speedway in a couple of weeks for the Daytona 500.
“Felt like if we could just maintain we could have a shot. Kyle helped me there at the end. He knew we had a fast car, so let me try and got a shot at Martin,” Dillon said. “That was nice, so hopefully I can pay back the favor we go to Daytona and work together well. It’s a great start for all of us.”
Is a Daytona 500 Win Next?
There isn’t much left for Busch to do or prove to anyone in NASCAR. The man has 60 career wins in NASCAR Cup Series competition and two NCS championships. However, there is one prize that still eludes the 37-year-old racer, and that is the Harley J. Earl trophy.
If Busch and Dillon can continue to work in close unison at Daytona, the sky is the limit. Busch very well could score his first Daytona 500 victory in what would be his 19th attempt. And by season’s end, RCR could return to the pinnacle of NASCAR. The organization hasn’t won a Cup Series championship since 1994. What a story that would be.