With a multitude of wrecks and the race sent into three two-lap overtimes, Busch had crawled his way up to second on the final restart of Sunday’s race and with an opportunity to challenge leader Tyler Reddick for the win.
The irony was Busch was now driving the same No. Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet which Reddick took to Victory Lane three times last season, twice at road courses.
As the field battled its way up the hill and into Turn 1, Busch made contact with Alex Bowman which sent both briefly off course. That allowed Reddick to clear for the lead and he held on for a 1.4-second win over Busch.
Busch said he didn’t know if he would have been able to hold off Reddick even if he managed to get into the lead.
“Even if we were on equal tires, when we tested here, they were lights out,” he said. “Had us beat on the frontside of the runs. We needed longer runs. Even today, we didn’t have great long-run speed. We had great middle-run speed.
“Overall, for as much effort and everything that we’ve put into coming here and focusing on this place, all the testing and everything we’ve been able to do during the off-season, came out here with a really good finish.”
Busch, in his first season at RCR, said he has been trying to replicate some of the things Reddick did with the No. 8 team last season to elevate their road course program.
“Tyler obviously is a really good road racer. He proved it driving this car here last year,” Busch said. “I was able to get in it and run right back to him. I’ve been trying to emulate the things he did in order to make this car fast last year, but not quite all the way there.
“They had a whale of a car.”
Busch’s runner-up finish continues his impressive start to the 2023 season.
He already owns a victory (at Auto Club Speedway) and has two top-five and four top-10 finishes and sits fourth in the series standings.