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Kyle Busch Tallies Dominant Gateway Victory

Kyle Busch celebrates a dominant Enjoy Illinois 300 victory at Gateway. (Photo: Travis Haston | The Podium Finish)

MADISON, Ill. – When Kyle Busch is in dominant form, it is typically bad news for the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field.

In today’s Cup landscape, Busch has evolved from the brash, young diamond in the rough to a proven commodity. Like Peyton Manning, the highly regarded racer is a two-time champion in the stock car circles versus the gridiron.

Similarly, like Manning’s move from the Indianapolis Colts to the Denver Broncos in 2012, Busch has thrived off the get go with Richard Childress after 15 years of competing with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Although the jury is still out on whether Busch tallies a championship like Manning in Super Bowl 50 in 2016, it is evident that the Las Vegas native is competitive and back to his winning ways.

From the start of the Enjoy Illinois 300 race weekend on Saturday morning to the checkered flag on Sunday evening, Busch made a statement in his No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Posting the seventh fastest time in practice, the then 61-time Cup race winner tallied his 33rd career Busch Light Pole Award and first in a Cup car at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Clearly, Busch was ready to race and take it to the streets against his competitors. While Ryan Blaney led the opening lap, Busch asserted himself into the picture by leading the next 44 laps to tally a convincing Stage 1 victory.

Then, it became the “Blaney and Busch Show” at Gateway as both drivers combined to lead all of the laps in Stage 2. As Blaney went on to win Stage 2, Busch earned a runner up result.

From there, Busch had a bit of work to do before finding himself in position to retake the lead in Stage 3. William Byron led for 30 laps, looking as if he would snatch the victory for the Chevrolet camp.

However, a caution on Lap 174 for Tyler Reddick’s Turn 1 accident changed the race’s complexity with a new challenger ready to battle with Busch for the win.

Larson tried his best to snooker a victory at Gateway. (Photo: Bobby Krug | The Podium Finish)

Busch and Larson dueled intensely but cleanly at Gateway. (Photo: Bobby Krug | The Podium Finish)

Namely, Kyle Larson joined the fray thanks to a two tire pit stop call by crew chief Cliff Daniels. In the final 65 laps, it was the “Kyle and Kyle Show” with five accidents slowing down the intriguing duel.

Unlike last year’s 300-miler at Gateway, Busch capitalized on this occasion. After passing Larson for the lead with 60 laps to go, Busch applied lessons learned from his late race restart duels against Joey Logano.

Not even a NASCAR Overtime restart could derail the two-time Cup champion from emerging victorious at Gateway. In fact, Busch prevailed with a 0.517 second victory over Denny Hamlin while Logano, Larson and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five finishers.

After celebrating his 62nd career Cup victory with family and crewmates, Busch reflected on the lessons learned from the inaugural Cup race at the egg shaped speedway.

“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. “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.”

Likewise, Busch counted his blessing in terms of the late race restarts and how he was able to hold serve in the waning moments of Round 15 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

“Just the restarts kind of went our way,” he said. “We were able to get through on the outside on that one and push Larson out, then he took bottom of three and four, I was able to carry the momentum around the high side to take the lead.

“That was really important. I think that was kind of the key moment of us being able to win today. Being able to control the rest of the restarts for the rest of the race.”

For the talk about the lack of respect displayed and executed amongst Cup drivers, Busch recognized how Larson raced him hard but cleanly, qualities he will remember with future dealings against his fellow Chevrolet racer.

“Kyle is one of the best,” he said. “It’s good to be able to sit up here and race hard with him, being a Team Chevy partner. He gave me great respect, I appreciate that. That will be given back down the road.”

Following a hard crash in the Coca-Cola 600, Hamlin tallied a strong runner up result at Gateway. Immediately, he thanked his No. 11 Sport Clips Joe Gibbs Racing team as he pursues a milestone victory.

“Yeah, I thought we were super dialed if it was 95 degrees like it was supposed to be with those delays – it kind of took away from the advantage I thought that we had,” Hamlin said. “I’m proud of this whole Sport Clips Toyota team – pit crew did a phenomenal job keeping us in it and doing really good on the money stop with about 60 to go. We are going to have to wait another to get that 50th (win).”

Logano tried his best to defend his Gateway victory before settling for a podium finish. All things considered, a third place result is a better experience than the Helter Skelter times experienced by the two-time and reigning Cup champion in recent weeks.

“I’m proud of the fight,” Logano said. “We were mediocre – just outside the top-five all day long. There was a group of cars that were a tick better than us. Then we executed at the end and beat a few of them. We tried some new things from last year, and we learned some lessons. But overall: Good.

“We needed a solid run. We’ve been going through hell here lately. So, it’s nice to get a top-five, third place, and some points there in each stage. Good day.”

Busch could not be stopped on Sunday at Gateway. (Photo: Travis Haston | The Podium Finish)

Busch could not be stopped on Sunday at Gateway. (Photo: Travis Haston | The Podium Finish)

Ultimately, Busch and his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team look sharp and competitive, providing more insights with this remarkable combination despite the short amount of time working together thus far in 2023.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Busch said. “That was pretty awesome. Man, 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. Great for RCR. Just win, baby!

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers
  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. William Byron
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Austin Cindric
  10. Daniel Suárez
Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers
  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. William Byron
  5. Daniel Suárez
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Ross Chastain
  10. Kyle Larson
Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Finishing Order
  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Daniel Suárez
  8. William Byron
  9. Michael McDowell
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Christopher Bell
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Austin Cindric
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Todd Gilliland
  16. Justin Haley
  17. Ryan Preece
  18. Erik Jones
  19. Aric Almirola
  20. Ty Gibbs (R)
  21. Corey LaJoie
  22. Ross Chastain
  23. Harrison Burton
  24. JJ Yeley
  25. Ty Dillon
  26. Alex Bowman
  27. BJ McLeod
  28. Brad Keselowski
  29. Gray Gaulding -1 lap down
  30. Bubba Wallace – Accident
  31. Austin Dillon – Accident
  32. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Accident
  33. Noah Gragson – Accident
  34. Chase Briscoe -50 laps down
  35. Tyler Reddick – Accident
  36. Carson Hocevar – Accident

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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