BRISTOL, Tenn. – Inside of 50 laps to go during Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch believed a long-awaited NASCAR Cup Series win in 2020 was his for the taking.
But after being boxed in by the lapped car of Joey Logano with 32 laps left, Busch could only watch as Kevin Harvick steamed back past and stole the win from his grasp.
That led to a vocal press conference after the race with reporters, complete with the runner-up and two-time Cup champion taking several jabs at his competitors for various incidents during the race.
Busch’s ire began with Logano, who he felt cost him what would have been his first victory since the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
“He’s nobody’s friend for a reason,” said Busch of Logano.
Though he got back to Harvick’s rear bumper in the final few laps, Busch noted he never thought to wreck Harvick and instead pointed another set of barbs at the slower traffic that both he and Harvick had to navigate in the final few corners.
“If that lap car wasn’t there, I would have blown it in on the outside or the inside, and maybe we would have banged each other’s doors or whatever and had a greater finish to the checkered flag,” said Busch. “But some of them dip(expletive) kids don’t know what the hell they’re doing or where they’re at, and can’t stay out of the way.
“Nothing like a (Joey) Gase and a (Garrett) Smithley.”
Busch’s run to second began from the rear of the field Saturday night, after his No. 18 Toyota Camry failed pre-race inspection twice and was relegated from its original starting spot.
He didn’t stay back there long. By the time the first yellow waved on the 27th lap, Busch was more than halfway through the 40-car field, and he was inside the top five by lap 100.
At the end of the first stage on lap 125, Busch was hot on the heels of Chase Elliott for the race lead, which he later took outright for the first time on lap 131.
Busch led three times for 159 laps, second-most behind Harvick’s 226 laps led, and snagged the point with 42 to go before Logano blocked the high lane and Harvick resumed command out front.
From there, Busch stayed second for his 12th top-five finish of the year, but remained with a goose-egg in the win column. That leaves him 10th on the playoff grid going into round two of the postseason.
Though he remains in contention for a third championship, Busch doesn’t feel like his team has the speed and performance to contend with the top runners at this juncture.
“We’ll be eliminated in the next round, so (I) don’t care,” Busch noted.
The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continue Sept. 27 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.