Kyle Busch Steals Bristol Victory as Reddick and Briscoe Crash | Sports News
By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Editor
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Kyle Busch slid past the spinning cars of Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe to steal his first Cup win of the season Sunday night at the slippery, wet and dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway.
Reddick was chasing the first Cup victory of his career, leading 99 of the 250 laps and controlling the race since the last restart with 24 laps to go. But the doubled traffic allowed Briscoe to close in on Reddick and he timed his move for the win for turn three, when Briscoe tried to force his way past Reddick on the inside.
The move backfired and both cars spun out of control and Busch, who was running third, simply circled for his first win.
“We have one, you know?” Busch said. “However you get them, it’s about getting them.”
Busch won the Cup for the ninth time at Bristol – the first time in two dirt races – and was booed by the handful of fans who waited out two rain delays that pushed the first Easter Sunday race since 1989 to nearly four hours.
“I mean, man, I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now. It’s awesome. I didn’t do anything,” Busch said of the 1999 race in which Earnhardt was booed for knocking Terry Labonte out of the win.
Reddick finished second and blamed himself for not holding Briscoe. Briscoe went two laps from the win to 22nd and immediately found Reddick on pit road apologizing.
“I was going to move on, I think, anyway,” Briscoe said. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to let you know. I’m sorry. I wish you had won.
Reddick was understanding and admitted he should have been more defensive.
“I don’t think I did everything right. Briscoe was able to get me back there,” Reddick said. “I should have done a little better job of just, I don’t know, I shouldn’t have let him get that close. He brought me down. I worked very hard to do that.
“I mean, you run on dirt, you go for the last corner. That’s all you as a pilot hope to fight for in his situation. It was really exciting for the fans. I should have done a better job of stepping away so he wouldn’t be in range trying to do that move.
Rain had stopped the race for the second time moments before the race was supposed to go green with 30 laps to go.
“It’s slimy,” Busch, who was running second as the rain slid down the track, said of the conditions.
From inside his cockpit, Reddick knew he had his work cut out if he was to win.
“One of the best stock car drivers, Kyle Busch, he’s definitely going to win it for me,” Reddick said from inside his Chevy.
But Briscoe passed Busch when the rain finally stopped and it was Briscoe who destroyed Reddick’s journey to victory lane.
The race was NASCAR’s second attempt to hold a Cup race on dirt and it turned into a wet and muddy mystery when rain interrupted the race and most drivers seemed unaware of the rules.
Bristol dumped more than 2,300 truckloads of Tennessee red clay on its beloved 0.533-mile concrete arenas to help NASCAR add variety to the schedule as the stock car series experiments with changes radicals. Fox Sports then convinced NASCAR to take the prime-time television slot on Easter Sunday, the first time since NASCAR’s inception in 1949 the Cup Series has deliberately chosen the date.
NASCAR had held 10 previous Cup races on Easter Sunday in its history, but all because of a weather-related postponement. This deliberate event was designed to dominate a family-gathered television audience, the same way the NFL and NBA do on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
What the new audience saw was a mass of mid-race confusion as few drivers seemed to understand the rules at the first stop. Some drivers stopped in the pits – probably because their teams knew the score was stopped under the red flag and would not resume until the race turned green.
Busch was among many riders who did not pit, possibly because they thought they would climb in the running order. So it was Busch who had his car in front when NASCAR halted all activity, but Briscoe, who had stopped, was marked as the leader.
Denny Hamlin, who had already been knocked out of the race, was watching Fox Sports and saw what he claimed was an explanation of the rules that lasted over a minute.
“What’s wrong with this photo,” Hamlin wrote on Twitter. “As a fan sitting on my ass right now, it’s hard to take this seriously.”
Saturday night’s Truck Series race runner-up Carson Hocevar posted a meme that implied NASCAR was making the rules as it went. In fact, NASCAR was clear in its pre-race rules video that scoring would be stopped at the end of the stage and would not resume until the race turned green again.
The confusion on pit road indicated that few people had a clear understanding of the procedures, which at Bristol differed from any other Cup race. NASCAR held a mandatory pre-pandemic pre-race driver meeting where the rules were discussed; it has since been replaced by a video.
The race resumed – with Briscoe in the lead – with all of stage three remaining.
DALE JR. AT THE FOX STAND
NASCAR Hall of Famer and NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be a spinning guest at the Fox Sports booth next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Earnhardt will join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer on Sunday. He has a record six wins at Talladega and is the 15-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award.
“Calling a race from Talladega is an incredibly fun experience,” Earnhardt said in a statement released by Fox Sports. “You absolutely have to be on your guard at all times. It doesn’t take much for all hell to break loose.
Fox Sports and NBC Sports shared NASCAR’s 38-race schedule. Neither network had an explanation for Earnhardt’s sharing next week. Fox Sports all season has used a different guest analyst to replace Jeff Gordon, who returned to a competition role at Hendrick Motorsports this season and left the network with a stand for two.
NASCAR races next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, where Brad Keselowski is the defending winner and Bubba Wallace in October picked up his first career victory.
More AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.