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Kyle Busch steals NASCAR Cup Series victory on last lap at Bristol

By Rod Mullins
Augusta Free Press

Kyle Busch nascar
Kyle Busch raises the huge Bristol Motor Speedway signature trophy with Food City President and CEO Steve Smith Sunday night after winning the Food City Dirt Race. Photo courtesy Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch won the Food City Dirt Race from a distant third place after the Ford of second-place Chase Briscoe slid up the high-banked dirt track into the Chevrolet of leader Tyler Reddick in the final corner, turning both cars sideways.

Despite Reddick righting his Camaro and steering toward the finish line, It was Busch’s momentum off Turn 4 that carried his No. 18 Camry across the start finish line,  .330 second ahead of Reddick, who was denied his first NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Busch, on the other hand, notched his 60th career victory, ninth-most all-time and most among active drivers. With his first win of the season, he matched Richard Petty’s series record streak of 18 years with at least one trip to Victory Lane.

An eight-time winner on Bristol’s traditional concrete surface—again, most among active drivers—Busch won the second NASCAR Cup Series dirt race since 1970 and the first featuring the new Next Gen race car.

“Yeah, we got one,” Busch said with a wry smile. “Doesn’t matter how you get ‘em. It’s all about getting ‘em. Can’t say enough. I mean, man, I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now (as the crowd booed his unexpected victory). This is awesome. I didn’t do anything.”

After the second of two rain delays, Busch restarted second on Lap 227, but he fell back as Briscoe passed him on Lap 232 of 250 and began to chase Reddick for the lead.

“I don’t know why, we couldn’t fire off after it rained, both times,” Busch said. “It just would not fire. Took it about 20 laps to get going.

In the midst of Busch’s celebration in the victory, another scene was unfolding in the pits as Chase Briscoe came to Tyler Reddick’s pit stall and took full responsibility for the accident that gave Busch the win.

“I was running Tyler down and tried throwing a slider and didn’t expect him to drive in there on me, and I got loose,” Briscoe said. “I was spinning either way. I feel terrible. I didn’t want to wreck him. That was my fault 100 percent. I hate it for Tyler. He’s a good friend of mine.”

Despite finishing second, Reddick took the disappointment with a lot of humility and  grace.

“I don’t think I did everything right, to be honest with you,” Reddick said. “Briscoe was able to run me back down there. Just looking at it, I should have done a little bit better job of just… I don’t know. I shouldn’t have let him get that close. He ran me back down. Worked really hard to do that.

“I mean, you’re racing on dirt, going for the move on the final corner. It’s everything that, as a driver, you hope to battle for in his situation. Made it really exciting for the fans, so… It does suck, but we were able to finish second still. I’m being honest. I should have done a better job and pulled away so he wasn’t in range to try to make that move. That’s how I look at it.”

Reddick took control of the race in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after a restart on Lap 151 to begin the final stage. With a ferocious run through Turns 1 and 2, he shot between the cars of Kyle Busch on the top and Joey Logano on the bottom to take the lead for the first time. He would hold the top spot for the next 99 laps, through five cautions and a second rain delay.

The final lap was the only one Busch led.

Briscoe was credited with a 22nd-place finish after running second into the final set of corners.

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