NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Busch's third RCR victory a 'phenomenal' one
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Busch's third RCR victory a 'phenomenal' one

Updated Jun. 5, 2023 12:04 p.m. ET

MADISON, Ill. — Kyle Busch retained the lead on five consecutive restarts as he led the final 60 laps in capturing the NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Gateway.

Busch atoned for losing the inaugural Cup event a year ago on the 1.25-mile oval as Joey Logano got by him on the final lap.

There would be no such hiccups this time as Busch earned his third win of the season in his first year at Richard Childress Racing.

"That was pretty awesome," Busch said. "To sit on the pole, lead a lot of laps and have my guys do such a great job today was pretty phenomenal for us."


Takeaways from a long afternoon at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway where Busch was followed by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. across the finish line.

Busch Finds Groove

Busch had one of his best performances in recent years in holding off Larson on many of those late-race restarts. Several drivers who have been strong this year — Larson, Hamlin and Ryan Blaney — were among those who could have challenged near the end but nobody had anything for Busch.

"I had a lot of experience of doing the same stuff last year, and unfortunately didn't make the most of it there at the end and get the win last year," Busch said. "I was able to do it this year just racing against a few of those guys.

"Larson was up there, Denny was up there, Blaney, all the guys that were fast all day. So I knew it wasn't going to be easy."

In his last few years at Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch had struggled to capitalize on winning opportunities. At RCR, he seems to have reversed that trend.

"Any time we can give him a car capable of winning, he's going to win with it," team owner Richard Childress said. "I think he just did a great job today.

'Great for RCR, just win baby!'

Kyle Busch captured the checkered flag at the Enjoy Illinois 300 for his third victory of the season. 

"Those last three or four or however many it was restarts, I felt they were pretty tough, but I knew he would be able to do his job."

LaJoie Frustrated In Sub Role

Corey LaJoie said it was still "a dream come true" to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car but he was frustrated with himself over his performance at Gateway as he finished 21st in substituting for the suspended Chase Elliott.

Brushing the wall just prior to his qualifying lap, LaJoie started 30th. He then accidentally hit the kill switch when shifting the car on the opening lap. He never got track position and finished 21st.

"Just couldn't quite get over the hump with track position," LaJoie said. "It was just a tough day. It's a tough situation to jump in and these guys are pros and their stuff runs good and wins races. And I just wasn't good enough this weekend.

"I'd like to think I can drive a race car better than I did this weekend."

'I got some work to do'

Corey LaJoie discusses frustration with himself after finishing 21st while stepping in for the suspended Chase Elliott.

With LaJoie not driving his regular Spire No. 7 ride, Carson Hocevar had the opportunity to make his Cup debut. It ended after 91 laps when a brake rotor broke and sent Hocevar into the wall. He was running 16th at the time.

"I felt at home running against my heroes," Hocevar said. "I had the time of my life. It was so fun. I'm just thankful. ... I am glad I was able to show speed."

LaJoie will be back in the No. 7 car next week.

"I wish those guys luck for the rest of the year once Chase gets back," LaJoie said. "They'll be winning some races, and I'll be giving that 7 car hell every week." 

Crew Member Injured

Erik Jones front tire changer Thomas Hatcher was taken to the hospital for observation and treatment after a scary incident on pit road.

Hatcher appeared to get tangled with another one of his crew members and fell in front of Jones' car as Jones stopped in his pit stall. It wasn't immediately clear if Jones then had any contact with Hatcher.

Enjoy Illinois 300 highlights

Kyle Busch's win at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway was his third win of the season.

The team told Jones over his in-car radio that Hatcher was awake and the team completed the race.

"The 3 [of Austin Dillon] was coming in in front of us, and I don't know [what happened]," Jones said. "I was gapped to [Dillon] and then tried to get in my box like normal and obviously they were coming around and in front of the car as I was coming in the box.

"I have to see the video to see truly what happened. I'm just praying for him right now. ... I hope to talk to him here soon."

Hatcher was released from St. Louis University Hospital late Sunday night and returned home to North Carolina, according to JGR. He will undergo the NASCAR concussion protocol this week to determine whether he can work the race this Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

Hatcher is a Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew member as Legacy Motor Club leases a crew from JGR.

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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