Bad Boy Back: Kyle Busch Gets Milestone NASCAR Cup Victory In Fontana Finale

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway Sunday (Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

FONTANA, Calif. – The Kyle Busch era at Richard Childress Racing began three weeks ago at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but the coronation was reserved for Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 in the last NASCAR Cup Series race at 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway.

Busch grabbed the lead from Ross Chastain on Lap 165 and regained it on Lap 180 at the end of a cycle of green-flag pit stops, as the race ran under green for the final 55 laps. He crossed the finish line on Lap 200 with a 2.998-second advantage over runner-up Chase Elliott.

The victory was the 61st of Busch’s career, most among active drivers and ninth all-time. For the 19th straight season, Busch has won at least one NASCAR Cup Series race, breaking a tie with seven-time champion Richard Petty for the series record.

Kyle and Kurt Busch now hold the record for most combined Cup victories by brothers with 95, one more than the total accumulated by Bobby and Donnie Allison.  

Coincidentally, Busch claimed the first Cup win of his career at Auto Club, the bulk of whose property was recently sold—with plans to replace the 2.0-mile speedway with a half-mile short track. 

Busch’s victory at Auto Club came in his second start in the No. 8 Chevrolet for RCR, the team he joined after 15 seasons and two series championships with Joe Gibbs Racing. 

“I can’t thank Richard and Judy (Childress) enough, Austin (Dillon) for calling me and getting me talking and getting me the opportunity to come over here to RCR,” said Busch, who had to overcome a pit road speeding penalty under caution on Lap 43.

“The guys did a great job. (Crew chief) Randall (Burnett)—everybody that worked so hard in the offseason. We did a lot of sim stuff, a lot of testing in general, just trying to get up to speed. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to go to Victory Lane…

“You put yourself in a different situation and you’re able to reward your guys. It’s not about me always winning, but about the guys. I’ve worked with a lot of great people who’ve given me a lot of great opportunities in my career. It’s awesome to be able to reward them.”

With qualifying rained out on Saturday, Elliott started 31st according to a metric formula based on owner points and performance in the previous race (the DAYTONA 500). Throughout the race, Elliott’s crew made the No. 9 Chevrolet better. By race’s end, it was competitive with the fastest cars in the field.

“Yeah, just really proud of our team,” Elliott said. “We obviously didn’t run very good there toward the end of the year last year, and just everybody really went to work hard over the winter to try and get better…  

“Obviously, I think we still have some work to do, but it was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do. So that’s always a good thing… 

“Congratulations to Kyle. For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool. He’s always been really good to me, so happy for them and looking forward to getting to Vegas and hopefully competing for some more wins.”

Chastain led a race-high 91 laps to Busch’s 27 and finished third after sweeping the first two stages, the second by 6.673 seconds. Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, Daniel Suárez ran fourth, followed by Kevin Harvick. Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

A multicar accident during a restart on Lap 86 eliminated polesitter Christopher Bell, as well as Ryan Preece, Aric Almirola and Tyler Reddick. Ryan Blaney, who ran at or near the front of the field in Stage 1, sustained heavy damage to his No. 12 Ford during the wreck and finished 26th.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Pala Casino 400

Auto Club Speedway

Fontana, California

Sunday, February 26, 2023

                   1. (21)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 200.

                   2. (33)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.

                   3. (8)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 200.

                   4. (7)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 200.

                   5. (10)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 200.

                   6. (13)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.

                   7. (16)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.

                   8. (4)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 200.

                   9. (28)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.

                   10. (3)  Joey Logano, Ford, 200.

                   11. (14)  Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 200.

                   12. (2)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 200.

                   13. (5)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 200.

                   14. (12)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 200.

                   15. (24)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 200.

                   16. (23)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 200.

                   17. (25)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 200.

                   18. (26)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 200.

                   19. (34)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 200.

                   20. (31)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 200.

                   21. (29)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 199.

                   22. (20)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 199.

                   23. (22)  JJ Yeley, Ford, 199.

                   24. (30)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 199.

                   25. (32)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 198.

                   26. (9)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 196.

                   27. (11)  Cody Ware, Ford, 195.

                   28. (19)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 194.

                   29. (15)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 185.

                   30. (18)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Engine, 172.

                   31. (36)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Engine, 140.

                   32. (1)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 88.

                   33. (27)  Ryan Preece, Ford, Accident, 87.

                   34. (35)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, Accident, 87.

                   35. (17)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 86.

                   36. (6)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 75.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  127.603 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.998 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 38 laps.

Lead Changes:  28 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Bell 1;A. Bowman 2-17;R. Chastain 18-27;J. Logano 28-29;R. Blaney 30-42;J. Logano 43;R. Blaney 44-46;R. Chastain 47-67;A. Bowman 68;R. Chastain 69-72;D. Hamlin 73-74;J. Logano 75-76;A. Dillon 77-79;N. Gragson # 80;J. Logano 81-92;D. Hamlin 93-97;R. Chastain 98-132;J. Logano 133;K. Harvick 134-137;K. Busch 138-141;J. Logano 142;K. Busch 143-144;K. Harvick 145;R. Chastain 146-166;C. Elliott 167;D. Hamlin 168-171;B. Keselowski 172-173;M. McDowell 174-179;K. Busch 180-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ross Chastain 5 times for 91 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 27 laps; Joey Logano 6 times for 19 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 17 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 16 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 11 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 6 laps; Kevin Harvick 2 times for 5 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 3 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 1 lap; Noah Gragson # 1 time for 1 lap; Christopher Bell 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 1,12,99,48,11,24,22,4,19,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,8,22,4,99,11,9,48,6,7


  1. Pretty decent race. Not a Rowdy fan, but it was good to see him get RCR a win in only his second race. Preece looked to be doing well, moving up through the field methodically, until Slogano decided to pull one of his brake check moves on that restart taking out allot of good cars. He may be a 2 time champion, but he’s an idiot, hoping payback comes soon and often. Wrecky Spinout proved that Daytona and Talledega are flukes that anyone could win. Hope Ryan has better luck in Vegas, he’s got the speed, just needs some luck.

  2. I was glad to see kyle get the win.
    I know kyle is a polarizing figure, but give him a decent piece, and he will get all he can out of it. Even with the pit road penalty on him yesterday, there was no bs, he raced back up through the Field. There is no question, he is more politically correct in the past year, due to the mars pullout I’m thinking, and no big sponsor to step up. Humbling. However, I was more than satisfied when he spoke accolades of the whole gibbs organization and the opportunity, support, they afforded him over the years. And he said so from victory lane after winning in an rcr mount.
    I also did not realize that gibbs was willing to run kyle this year out of his own pocket, and kyle declined. His words, “I just did not feel right about that”. Then Dillon called him.
    And you know? Childress has been there as an owner, forever. We all know what that organization has gone through. Reddick looked like the best thing to happen to rcr in a long while, then Richard doesn’t even get a chance to sign him, as 23xI pounced. And why would they not?
    So say what you want about kyle bush, but I bet he had as much pressure on him yesterday as a guy could have, and he kept his head on him, and brought it home. And the last race at Fontana to boot.
    So Rob P, last week I noted for Preece, that everything will need to be perfect, ( for him and all drivers for that matter) to win, and then he needs some good luck on top of it. Tough to win at this level, hell, even to score a top 5!
    So, imo, he did not have the car to win yesterday even if he lasted the whole race. The Fords were just not as overall as quick as the chevys and toyotas to my eyes. Logano may have had a shot,, and give Harvick credit for grinding all day, and getting it home 5th. I think he got more out of that car than the car had, imo, for honorable Ford mentions.
    As for Preece, for the life of me, how can you make a call to stay out at the beginning of stage 2, when all but 3 cars pitted behind you? Rubber was the story all day there, even if only a few laps on tires! (After 1st 10 laps run yesterday Larry Mac chimes in to let us know that the tire falloff was already a full second from when they took the green).
    To me it says, desperate for track position, as we dont have the car to hang up front.
    So back through the field like a rock, and he gets caught up back there when logano pulls the logano.
    May have happened to preece anyway, the way the cards were falling for him. Thats racing, get em next week as it were.
    Funny though, when I saw Preece wreck, he must have taken a fatal car hit on his car that the cameras (or myself) missed. After the initial contact that got him out of shape, it seemed to me that Ryan kept the car off of everything. Surprised when he did not come back, but not surprised nobody in booth mentioned (other than he was involved in wreck) what happened to car, or showed the car post wreck. Forgive me if i missed something.
    Oh well, On to vegas, and hopefully some better luck.

  3. 🍃 High Steaks 🥩 says

    I always had disdain for Kyle Busch but I actually found myself pulling for him to get his first win with RCR. I think the process of looking for a new ride during the offseason was eye opening for him. His post race interview was the most humble I can recall ever seeing him give.

  4. Yes Bob f we saw a new and improved Kyle in those interviews. I’m not a fan but found myself pulling for him even though Harvick was right up there. As for Preeces wreck, he gets the car pointed straight then gets bitch slapped on the right side into Amarolla on the left. Probly some suspension damage took him out.

  5. Thx rob p. I missed that part of it on replays.

  6. I’m shocked M&M’s and other sponsors stayed with him so long.

  7. 🍃 High Steaks 🥩 says

    Despite not being a fan when Kyle was at JGR, is there another active driver with better car control than Rowdy?

  8. To accomplish what Kyle has, in the relatively short time he’s been racing is simply amazing. Like I’ve said, I’m not a fan, but I respect him based on his accomplishments. When all is said and done he may just well be referred to as the goat. Not to mention the numerous drivers who’s careers started driving for KBM, and are now in both cup and xfinity.

  9. It really is interesting reading the comments on CUP races. These strange new warm and cuddly feelings regarding Kyle Busch have me flummoxed completely.
    His history includes a lot of arrogant commentary and some pretty unpopular in race behavior that have made him a popular topic over the years. The serious stuff including the low brow reference to mentally disabled folks and the gun episode.
    Admittedly my concentration on the whole of CUP racing minimal with the only significant focus on Preece. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t NASCAR and the media do some interviews with Busch giving him a chance to explain his take on everything and show the required contrition? Was that not a whole media thing and did it not touch some of your hearts?
    I have to ask what’s changed? The guy got smacked back into line and he took it. Mostly one would think for economic and survival reasons not a fundamental change of heart.
    CUP racing needs arrogant jerks that stick out for one reason or the other to wear the black hats and make the guys in the white hats look good. What I’m surprised at is the positive commentary about a guy that is the same leopard with the same spots that for expedience sake has behaved a bit better……for now.
    Hollow point bullets….really?

  10. Duhhh is at it again…” I’m shocked M&M’s and other sponsors stayed with him so long”…. LOL. Right. With constantly running upfront and Winning races and Championships it is really shocking. Duhhh Duh Duuuhhh.

  11. Well, im sure he’s the same old leopard, but, i still feel he is one of the best to get behind a wheel.
    And I was vey happy to see rcr get the win.
    They made it happen. Will he slide back to the old ways? Time will tell. If i were a betting man, i’d probably say so. But in the short term, a good story line for a series that needs good story lines
    Where it goes from here is anyones guess. But as racer, he proved Sunday he can still get it done, when the doubters of previous seasons had him all but written off.
    So I was never a Kyle Bush “person” fan, but strictly as a racer, he has had a pretty good career so far. Doesn’t mean I gotta love him. But I sure do respect his stats. Sunday was a great performance by him, and the whole organization. Jmo.

  12. Kyle is probably the best driver to compete in the top 3 divisions of Nascar. The numbers speak for themselves. As we all know, when you win allot of races people, for some reason, start booing you.when you win allot and get booed allot, it feeds your ego, you get arrogant.
    I am in no way a Kyle Busch fan, but I respect him based on his talent on the track. Sometimes it’s entertaining watching him come from the back of the pack. I also respect him for the way he handled this transition. Coach was willing to re-sign him, and pay for it out of his pocket until they could secure sponsorship. Kyle felt that this wasn’t fair for the coach.
    Since signing with RCR he’s had great results, winning his second race in. Vegas, barring any trouble will give a gage of where they’re at.
    As far as what happens off the track, it’s exactly that, off the track. Barring felonious behavior, it’s none of our business, his privacy should be respected

  13. janet "mayas" guthrie says

    yeah had great car / truck control back in the day.. wrecking people with little or no accountability until his present boss finally punched him out !!! why do people get sentimental over kyle .. he will always be a punk.. I guess everyone gets on board when someone appears to have mellowed in their old age ??? sure NASCAR needs a story to sell to viewers as the on track product and the new stars of tomorrow have no personality. as for preece. he can produce in good equipment but it takes more luck than skill or money these days in NASCAR…

  14. Before the backlash. I am aware that he is a “Public figure” , and therefore he’s in the spotlight of public opinion, and should act accordingly. At the same time, being a competitor, in Nascar, his life is under a microscope. All drivers are drug and alcohol and PED testing regularly, as well as phychiatric evaluations
    Think about it, their lives are more restricted than ours. They live under stricter circumstances than us
    But I st8ll stand by that what happens off track is off track and is none of our business.

  15. Neither a Kyle Busch fan or an RCR fan.


    “Prominent NASCAR team owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress, for example, made headlines in 2017 when they entered themselves into the conversation about kneeling during the national anthem in peaceful protest of racial injustice and police brutality. Kneeling hadn’t reached NASCAR like it had other sports, yet both Petty, a seven-time Cup Series champion whose team fields Wallace’s car, and Childress, whose two grandsons now race in the Cup Series, both said they’d fire anyone who took a knee. ”

    and this…

    “Childress, when asked how he would respond to kneeling by any of his employees, said in that same 2017 story: “Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over.” ”

    Listening to Petty and Childress attempt to co-opt glory and respect for staunchly appearing to respect the flag is disgusting and laughable. Relentlessly bringing up those that died for the flag is pure narcissistic, selfish and self-serving. Those people died so that others can take a knee in peaceful protest against police brutality and racism.

    Interesting that Kyle goes from Minister Joe Gibbs Racing where he sinned fast and furious every time he got in a car or truck. Every time he wrecked another vehicle or said something mean and nasty was a sin. But I’m sure they prayed it away and then counted the pile of gold.

    Now Kyle is at RCR that has had supremacy issues over the years. The bold comment about firing anyone who protested police abuse of Blacks by taking a knee is one of the blatant recent incidents. It was all over the news.

    Childress and Petty are some real old dogs in a progressing world.

    Now, the knee of capitalism is already resting on the necks of Childress and Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch is clearly muted, and it’s infuriating him. He was probably sent to numerous Dale Carnegie courses, and corporate culture lessons. It’s going to be fun watching him try to keep it together. Watch the companies that sponsor Kyle Busch.

    Kinda phunny, holy roller Minister Joe Gibbs banks Kyle Busch and all his bad boy debacles, and had no intention of stemming the flow of gold in his direction. Now Kyle is at RCR, that is already under a microscope, and has the knee of capitalism planted on his neck, ready and waiting to apply more pressure. Can’t make this stuff up.

    To be clear, Christianity is not my religion, so don’t take offense and play a victim when I don’t stand for your invocation. Plenty of people died for that freedom.

  16. Actually I think the reason he’s mellowed is because of his kid racing. He gets to hang out at the cart tracks and such. Also he’s forming a new relationship with chevy, what a perfect time for a personality shift. Anyway, Mad respect, he will retire as the GOAT.

  17. 🍃 High Steaks 🥩 says

    I Read the comments here alot, rarely post.
    Gotta say it seems Dareal’s comments typically stray from the topic of racing and are crafted to incite controversy… MOST of the time.

    Don’t you have anything better to do?

  18. Meathead Mike says

    Great points dareal, this is why I respect your opinion so much. The old guys of NASCAR just don’t get it. But even some of the new guys of NASCAR need to step up their game. Although NASCAR talks a good game about diversity, equity and inclusion, I have studied the starting lineups for the first three Cup races, and I’ll be damned, but I couldn’t find even one drag queen in the starting lineup!

  19. Well, I reviewed my previous contributions to this thread, and indeed they were on topic. Some may not have liked the content, but the comments were on topic.

    Hey Meathead Mike, how do you know from the starting lineup if someone is a drag queen? Why are you looking for them? Given NASCAR’s deep history rooted in racism and discrimination, I doubt those that dabble in drag would out themselves.

  20. Meathead Mike says

    Great point dareal, about NASCAR’s deep history rooted in racism and discrimination. Great points about the old guys in NASCAR too, this is why I value your opinions so much. One thing that annoys me is how “offended” military veterans get over disrespect for the flag. Who the hell do these military veterans think they are? Do you think we should just ignore the opinions of these military veterans, or at least the opinions of Christian military veterans? Since veterans I know applauded Petty and Childress when they announced their company’s values concerning respect for the flag should we lose respect for these veterans? I am anxiously awaiting your advice.

  21. Meathead Mike, perhaps these veterans that feel “offended” when the flag is disrespected need to spend time with veterans that understand the Constitution, and that “disrespecting” the flag is something that has been to the Supreme Court and was ruled as Free Speech provided by the Constitution. People fought and died for that Constitutional right of Free Speech. Why do you want to disrespect those that died to defend the rights in the Constitution?

    During the heyday of the Colin Kaepernick/Taking a Knee thing, many veterans said they fought to protect the right to do exactly what Colin Kaepernik was doing. Why do you want to disrespect those veterans?

    So do not lose respect for these veterans that are not aware of the full extent and meaning of the Constitution, particularly the First Amendment and Free Speech provisions. Educate and enlighten them. But if they insist on not informing themselves, or putting the Bible above the Constitution, I highly recommend ignoring them, that’s what I do. I thank them for their service, regardless of how little they know of the Constitution.

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  22. Meathead Mike says

    Great points dareal this is why I respect your opinion so much. And so very nice of you to still support the stupid veterans who need to be educated and enlightened. And very nice of you to ignore those stupid veterans who aren’t as smart as you are. If only more people were as forgiving and nice as you are, America would be a better country.

  23. Meathead Mike, why do you hate veterans so much? And that you judge veterans as stupid is pretty harsh.

    Ignorance can be educated, crazy can be medicated, and stupid is still incurable.

    When you are dead, you don’t know that you are dead. It is only difficult for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

    Meathead Mike, don’t be so harsh, mean and nasty. Maybe someday you can be happy. I have hope for you. I hope for a cure.

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