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Kyle Busch Nearly Nabs Atlanta Victory for RCR

Kyle Busch placed a bittersweet third at Atlanta by just 0.007 seconds on Sunday night. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

HAMPTON, Ga. — Kyle Busch put himself in a position to make it a twofer at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In fact, he could describe the finish like being a Stealers Wheel song from 1973.

Simply put, Busch found himself “Stuck in the Middle with You,” if you happened to be Daniel Suárez and Ryan Blaney on Lap 260. Considering the eventful Ambetter Health 400’s carnage on Sunday, a photo finish seemed to sweeten the deal like a Georgia peach.

Before Busch was part of NASCAR’s third-closest finish since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, he rolled off from the third position. Leading the opening 10 laps, Busch arguably drove the best Chevrolet Camaro at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Placing fifth in Stage 1, Busch was assessed with a pit road speeding penalty in Stage 2, relegating himself to a 24th place result. With 85 laps remaining, Busch, fighting for the free pass, tangled with Kaz Grala in Turn 1.

Kyle Busch was competitive and fast at Atlanta on Sunday. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

Although it was a less than ideal circumstance for the Boston native, Busch was the beneficiary of the caution period, rejoining the lead lap fray. The Las Vegas native charged his way back up to the front, taking the lead on Lap 233 before Ryan Blaney, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, retook the number one spot a lap later.

Undeterred, Busch plotted his potential, winning maneuvers in the final laps of the race. About three hours, 38 minutes and 40 seconds later, the driver of the No. 8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet Camaro nearly made it happen for Richard Childress Racing.

By just 0.007 seconds, Busch missed out on winning his 64th career Cup race, defeated by Daniel Suárez and Ryan Blaney to the stripe.

For what it is worth, Busch, the new points leader, wanted this victory for his Richard Childress Racing crewmates.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Busch said. “I mean, I hate it because I felt like we were one of the top-five cars today and had a good shot. The 12 was deservingly one of the faster cars, and with all the carnage, it took out some other guys early.

“I just got a little too far ahead of the 99 and he got a good side draft through the corner. I didn’t think the outside would prevail, but with the run down the frontstretch and the side draft, that is what hurt us. I was looking at the 12 and I swore I was ahead of the 12 at the line, but obviously my eyes are bad. Need more powerful glasses, I guess.”

Kyle Busch leaves Atlanta with the points lead and a chance to battle for a hometown Las Vegas win next Sunday. (Photo: Joshua White | The Podium Finish)

Witty humor aside, Busch got a little help from an old friend in Bubba Wallace, his former NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series racer, in terms of the energy and run needed to even mount that final lap charge, nearly winning free chicken tenders for fans.

“Yeah, it definitely does,” he said. “There towards the end, you don’t have that many alliances. All my friends kind of disintegrated and went away throughout the day. Bubba came to the rescue, and he was a huge part of our success there off of (Turn) 2 and down the backstretch and getting a run.

“Getting alongside Blaney was a tight fit, but being able to make that move – if I didn’t make that move, then I push Blaney out too far through three and four and he wins. So, glad to see a Chevy in Victory Lane.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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