NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Busch's 'lucky' win caps eventful Talladega finish
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Busch's 'lucky' win caps eventful Talladega finish

Published Apr. 23, 2023 9:33 p.m. ET

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Kyle Busch had not won a superspeedway points race in 15 years, so when he captured the win Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, he had to have done something different than in the dozens of previous races.

Not really.

"I got lucky," Busch said.

At superspeedway races, a driver must be lucky and good often to win, and Busch had both as he got a push from Brad Keselowski to nudge ahead of Bubba Wallace as Wallace tried to keep Ryan Blaney at bay during the final lap.

Wallace threw three blocks on Blaney and ended up turned into the wall, bringing out the caution and leaving Busch to celebrate his second win of the year. Wallace took the blame for the wreck.

"Not the 12’s fault at all," Wallace said about Blaney, who drives the No. 12 and is one of his best friends.

Takeaways from Talladega, where Blaney — who led a race-high 47 laps — finished second with Chris Buescher third, Chase Briscoe fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.

Big Busch Win

Busch slipped into Victory Lane maybe feeling lucky but knowing he put in the work to try to get better at superspeedway racing. His last Talladega win came in 2008 — and he had won 55 times since then at other tracks until Sunday.

In his move to Richard Childress Racing for this year, Busch began working with a new spotter (Derek Kneeland), the team member who talks to the driver during the race to tell them where other cars are in relation to his car. Spotters are vital in superspeedway racing.

"He came over [saying], ‘Man, I'll tell you what, I've really struggled at these places. I don't know what it is about my approach, what we do, but I've struggled at these superspeedway tracks,’" said Busch crew chief Randall Burnett about initial discussions with Busch about superspeedway racing.

"He was very interested to see how Derek goes about approaching his day and how that communication goes. They spent a lot of time over the winter talking about it, listening to tape, doing all that. I think it paid off."

'Sometimes, you got to be lucky'

Kyle Busch addresses the overtime finish at Talladega.

Busch, who broke his right leg and left ankle in a crash in an Xfinity race at Daytona in 2015, views racing at Daytona, Talladega and Atlanta as one of just hoping not to get injured in the hard wrecks that often come with the style of racing where the drivers are in tight packs and have little time to react to spins.

"Ever since 2015 struck, I've always just hoped to walk out of a speedway race at the end of the day," Busch said.

"When you're able to do that, you might as well take solace in it. It's not a win, but at least you're going home on your own two feet."

Young Drivers Up Front

Rookie Noah Gragson raced near the front much of the day before being involved in a couple of incidents. The first is when he turned second-year Cup driver Harrison Burton, who had led 11 laps and was looking at a possible career-best finish.

"There’s a big bump [above] the tunnel into [Turn] 3 — I’ve got to call Harrison or go see him and just apologize," Gragson said about the area of the track that runs above a tunnel that allows vehicles to enter the infield of the track. "I didn’t mean to get into him. ... It was a complete mistake. My fault."

Busch into Victory Lane

Watch the final laps of Kyle Busch's win at the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Gragson then was battling for the lead when Ross Chastain dove inside of him to try to create a middle lane between Gragson and leader Ryan Blaney. Contact with Chastain sent Gragson spinning.

"He kind of hit me and got me out of shape just a little bit — we weren’t up to speed yet [on the restart]," Gragson said. "I’ve just got to look at what I’ve got to do a better job. ... It’s definitely a bummer."

Briscoe Rally

Briscoe rallied from two laps down when he spun entering pit road to finish fourth. He was as surprised as anyone that he spun and that he was able to rally.

"At Daytona and even here in the past, I’ve been able to out-brake so many guys coming down on there [to pit road]," Briscoe said. "I just didn’t do a very good job. ... I was coming with so much speed, I was going to destroy the 42 [of Gragson ahead of him] or spin myself out.

"I decided to spin myself out."

Geico 500 at Talladega highlights

The race ended under caution as Kyle Busch recorded his second win of the season and first at Talladega in 15 years.

Briscoe had surgery to repair a broken middle finger on his left hand on Monday, and he said it was a painful race. He had competed in two events with the broken finger in a splint but now that he has pins in the finger, it was worse. While he indicated that the pain didn’t result in his spin, it certainly was noticeable.

"With the pins in there, it’s like anytime anything touches one of those pins, it just sends excruciating pain," Briscoe said. "I was literally screaming in the car at some points."

NASCAR does not allow drivers to use any pain medication that could impede focus, so drivers pretty much are limited to over-the-counter medications and their recommended dosage.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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