Kyle Busch Turns Pole Position To Cup Series Win After Long Day At Gateway

Kyle Busch celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on Sunday (Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

MADISON, Ill.—Kyle Busch collected his 63rd NASCAR Cup Series victory on Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway, but the driver of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet had to work hard for the first-place money. 

Busch, the pole winner, survived five restarts in the last 40 laps of the Enjoy Illinois 300 and beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line by .517 seconds after Bubba Wallace’s broken brake rotor caused the 11th caution on Lap 236 and sent the race to overtime.

The victory was Busch’s first at the 1.25-mile track and the third in his debut season with RCR. It was a home game for his crew chief, Randall Burnett, who grew up in Fenton, Mo., and had family in attendance on Sunday.  

“That was pretty awesome,” Busch exulted after he climbed from his car. “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! Thanks to Team Chevy, appreciate (sponsor) 3Chi…

“We’re going to have a great time with this one. This one is pretty cool.” 

Busch led five times for 121 laps, including the last 60. Neither Hamlin nor third-place finisher Joey Logano—winner of the inaugural Gateway race last year—led a single circuit. 

Kyle Larson parlayed a two-tire call on Lap 178 into improved track position and a fourth-place finish. Martin Truex was fifth, followed by Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, William Byron, Michael McDowell and Kevin Harvick. 

Blaney led 83 laps and Byron 30. Byron pitted from the lead on Lap 178 but fell to fourth with an uncharacteristically slow stop and faded in traffic after the subsequent Lap 184 restart. 

Corey LaJoie finished 21st in a substitute role for Chase Elliott, who was serving a one-race suspension for wrecking Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. 

Subbing for LaJoie in his usual ride—the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet—Carson Hocevar started 26th and gained 10 spots with an impressive drive through the field before a brake rotor failure on Lap 90 knocked him out of the race.

Hocevar was running 16th and chasing Austin Dillon for position when the right front rotor broke into pieces. The No. 7 Camaro made jarring contact with the Turn 1 wall to cause the fourth caution of the race, which was delayed for two hours with just seven laps complete because of lightning in the area.

“I thought it was great,” said Hocevar, who was racing a Cup car for the first time. “I had a blast. Just so thankful for the opportunity. I don’t have a job for next year. I know Al Niece and Cody Efaw want me to run for them (in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series), and I will forever run a race or however many. 

“But man, I’m just so thankful that (Spire) gave me the opportunity—the opportunity to drive an Xfinity car (on Monday at Charlotte) and now driving a Cup car. I was running 16th… just so surreal for the first time ever. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot for the No. 7 Chevy team. Hopefully, that call for a Cup ride isn’t the only one I get in my life.” 

Brake rotors weren’t an issue confined to Hocevar’s car. Tyler Reddick slammed the outside wall after his right front rotor exploded on Lap 175. On Lap 198, the same fate befell Noah Gragson, who took the hardest hit of all when his No. 42 Chevy slid up the track into the fence in Turn 1.

Bubba Wallace had the same issue with five laps left in regulation, and his contact with the Turn 1 wall set up the final two-lap run to the finish in overtime. 

Hamlin felt the lightning delay played against him and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team.

“Yeah, I thought we were super dialed in if it was 95 degrees like it was supposed to be, (but) 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 (for) another (race) to get that 50th (win).” a

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter

World Wide Technology Raceway

Madison, Illinois

Sunday, June 4, 2023

                1. (1)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 243.

                2. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 243.

                3. (6)  Joey Logano, Ford, 243.

                4. (22)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 243.

                5. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 243.

                6. (2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 243.

                7. (13)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 243.

                8. (7)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 243.

                9. (21)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 243.

                10. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 243.

                11. (17)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 243.

                12. (27)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 243.

                13. (10)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 243.

                14. (11)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 243.

                15. (28)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 243.

                16. (23)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 243.

                17. (29)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 243.

                18. (31)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 243.

                19. (24)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 243.

                20. (15)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 243.

                21. (30)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 243.

                22. (8)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 243.

                23. (14)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 243.

                24. (36)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 243.

                25. (33)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 243.

                26. (18)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 243.

                27. (34)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 243.

                28. (19)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 243.

                29. (35)  Gray Gaulding(i), Ford, 242.

                30. (20)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Accident, 236.

                31. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 223.

                32. (12)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 219.

                33. (32)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, Accident, 197.

                34. (25)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 193.

                35. (9)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, Accident, 174.

                36. (26)  Carson Hocevar(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 91.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  87.508 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 28 Mins, 16 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .517 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 67 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   R. Blaney 1;K. Busch 2-60;R. Blaney 61-98;K. Busch 99;R. Blaney 100-143;K. Busch 144;T. Reddick 145-148;W. Byron 149-178;K. Larson 179-183;K. Busch 184-243.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 4 times for 121 laps; Ryan Blaney 3 times for 83 laps; William Byron 1 time for 30 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 5 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 4 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 8,12,11,19,22,4,24,1,2,99

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,8,11,24,99,47,22,4,1,5


  1. Diet Bud says

    Not sure why JGR let Kyle go once in a lifetime talent, he alone has more wins than JGR’S 4 teams.

  2. Diet Bud,
    I think it was ultimately a situation where the relationship had kind of run its course, not unlike many other relationships we’ve seen at this level over the last 25 years or so. A team and driver spend a long time together and maybe there’s just a staleness that creeps in on both sides. You mention how he has more wins this year than all of the JGR cars combined. But how about this statistic? He has three wins in 15 races this year for RCR. He had only four wins in his last 108 starts for JGR from 2020 to 2022. And during that span was knocked out of the playoffs early each year. I think Kyle Busch is a once in a lifetime talent who doesn’t get recognized for that because so many people are fixated on hating him because of his personality. But I also think it was time for him to part ways with JGR just because.

  3. Capt. Mike Qbvious says


    While I believe there’s merit to what you’re saying, I think the more immediate issue was JGR’s inability to find a new sponsor to replace M&Ms/Mars — or at least one that would allow JGR to pay Kyle what he wanted. The partnership may well have run its course, but I’m sure both parties would have been willing to continue it if the money was right. Perhaps not being able to get a new sponsor worked out best for everyone involved — Kyle Busch got a fresh start with an RCR team that was back on the rise, and JGR was able to move Ty Gibbs up to Cup full-time while bringing his primary sponsor (Monster Energy) along.

  4. Capt. Mike Qbvious,
    I agree 100 percent with what you’re saying. The loss of M&M/Mars made it the breakup a lot cleaner and explainable. But I think if Joe Gibbs, in his heart of hearts truly wanted to keep Kyle Busch in his stable he would have found a way to make it work financially somehow.

  5. Well, does anybody else notice that Kyle Busch is not as big a dick nowadays as he was when back at JGR? Sponsors had enough of that schtick, and sponsors were not stepping up to back KB @ JGR. It was a very humbling time for KB, and it surely looks like he was sent to charm school. Quite a bit of charm school. If not charm school, a very long amount of time spent with his sponsor’s PR people and legal departments, and RCR upper management. Also notice that KB @ RCR does not have a huge single sponsor, but a plethora of sponsors. I’m thinking KB is on some sort of perpetual triple secret probation.

    It’s all about sponsors.

    Hendrick has to sponsor Kyle Larson, I guess because of his misstep that still sticks to him. Sponsors are very aware of what could happen. Look at the Bud Light fiasco.

  6. Capt. Mike Qbvious says


    Fair point. It could well be a case of Joe Gibbs (and/or the sponsors he was courting) deciding that Kyle’s performance from 2020-2022 had dipped enough that he was no longer worth the PR headaches. We may never know all the details, but either way, it’s made for one of the most intriguing NASCAR story lines of the past year-plus.

  7. Suitcase Jake says

    My moles in NC tell me Old Joe was gonna write the check out of His own fortune … ala Rick Hendrick for Kyle Larson ,. .. But Busch said , no I don’t want you to do that.. I am moving on.. but thank you Joe for Everything you have done for me personally and professionally …. Hey look .. Love or Hate is a thin line… But the Guy can Wheel a Race Car …. Wins are just an Amazing number…. Ryan Preece finished 17th …!!!! starting to get in the Top 20…. now a few TOP 10’s would be HUGE for this up and coming team…Hopefully Ryan has a 2 or 3 year contract …??????? Maybe Shawn can weigh in on the length of Ryan’s Cup DEAL .. ????

  8. Suitcase Jake,
    My understanding is that Ryan is on a one-year deal.

  9. Stuart A Fearn says

    You don’t think Kyle Busch is more motivated than any time in like the last 10 years? He certainly wants it to be known that he alone has more wins than the entirety of JGR!
    When the announcement was first made my first reaction was KB is going to geta lot more fans, like me or one. Like millions, I was a big Dale Earnhardt fan and subsequently RCR. Dale is gone but RCR remains, Richard is a wise old bird and undoubtably has gotten Kyle motivated and pulling in the same direction as RCR. A more humble and likeable KB is really unbeatable if you ask me. Could have a nice time over at RCR as long as he stays number one and the grandkids play a supporting roll in the background.

  10. Suitcase Jake says

    Oh Boy….Not much time to learn the new Cars and Cup Deal… Well let’s hope with Harvick leaving next year there is still room at SHR for Ryan to get another year to succeed … I know Tony really likes Him…. Hopefully the Sponsors like Ryan also… This Cup deal is rough… Always young , up and coming Drivers moving up the Ranks…trying to fill a Seat….

  11. Well, mentioned that old joe was gonna write his own check back when no sponsor was stepping up. At the time, kyle was vocal about not doing that. I though at the time, that was classy. But anti- buschers as it were, cut him no slack at that time. Sure, Dillon made the call, but childress signed him. Ty Dillon had just left the geico 13 figuring he was heir apparent for the 8. Ha!
    But, Love or hate Childress, he had to tell Ty (wow, tough thanksgiving dinners) no, and then took a leap of faith on Kyle Busch. On all fronts.
    Love or hate Busch, he is one of the best to come down the pike. Numbers dont lie.
    As for “mild mannered” or not as big of dick as he used to be, I think 2 things. Yes, agreed he had to attract sponsors. But his son does a boatload of racing now as well. And I think he is trying to set the right example by his son, by being that role model in racing circles, just a guess. Mellowing as a dad maybe? Hey, everyone deserves a benefit of the doubt….
    Suitcase, as for Ryan, I’ve been kind of floating the notion, that maybe, just maybe, Haas is not as elite of an organization as one may think they are. Certainly, I think the organization as a whole, is certainly struggling with the next gen car. The only consistent runner there, is the 4, and its been a while.
    I am certainly not suggesting that this wasn’t a break for ryan, nor should he jump ship. But its pretty tough for a guy when the organization to me anyway, appears to be struggling. On top of that, this is ryan’s first year in the next gen. He is still learning it, and probably trying to wrap his arms around the feedback he needs to give his crew chief. Its hard to say whats going to happen there. Considering that haas self sponsors a lot of those races himself, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit, if when harvick leaves, he and tony pare to a 3 car operation due to “sponsor ship” issues. That, and I’m not sure what the deal was sending custer down, as well as having herbst in the mix as well. Suitcase, I believe the only way ryan is back with haas next year is if he makes the playoffs with a win, and has success in playoffs . Anything less than that, well…
    Im sure above will tick some off, but its just an opinion, with a little conjecture thrown in for good measure……

  12. Suitcase Jake says

    Bobf, Well said…They are quite far away from a Win, Maybe Martinsville in October ,… with no mistakes,… That’s probably their best shot…It’s hard when your up against the best 30 drivers of stock cars in the World…Let’s hope Ryan has a breakthrough of some type very soon…Martinsville was a heartbreaker for sure.. After dominating and winning a stage…that extra pit stall in front, not accounted for on the stopwatch, on a full launch to the line just killed His chances to Win .,. even if He came out 3rd .. Ryan would still be in the mix for the Win… Racing can be cruel at times…Hopefully Ryan can make something happen somewhere….

  13. Almirola has won 3 in 439 races.

    Briscoe has won 1 in 87 races.

    Neither of those drivers are locked in, and I think Preece has far more potential than Almirola and Briscoe have shown.

    Give Preece a really good crew chief. The last couple races for Preece showed he needs a better crew chief calling the adjustments. His car went backwards after pit stops. He was lucky to hang on to the lead lap.

    Who takes over the 4 car?

    Preece? Briscoe? Almirola? Other?

  14. Well dareal, maybe that could help. But, I dont see the rest of the cars in that organization lighting the world on fire. Harvick has more consistent runs towards the front, but thats about it for the haas body of work this year. I just think something is missing from all 4 cars organization wise. All 4 current chiefs in the haas organization cant be that inconsistent, or could they?
    And who knows if anybody fills the seat of the 4 next year. It could be possible the organization pulls back next year. Sure, its all conjecture at this point, but to your point of the crew chief adjustments, I’m not sure the lackluster performances at haas are all crew chief issues.
    Preece ran 28th in the first 2 stages for the most part. He ran 22ish latter half of stage 3. After the final stop and adjustments, managed to end up 17th.
    Small gains, but gains none the less. So, there appears to be communication and some positive adjustments from my point of view. Not earth shattering, but at least some progress. But I get your point he should not be that far back to start to begin with. Point taken.
    So lets hope they keep progressing, and maybe they will hit on something the others have not hit on in the organization (sans childers).
    Unless you could get someone top tier at this point of the season, if in fact one was available (who?) I think preece has to stick it out. A new chief may make it worse at this point. (Learning curve, Or maybe not?). Would be A big gamble that could shake things up in a negative way at this point of the season. Maybe swap around all the haas crew chiefs ala Penske organization like a few years ago maybe?
    And believe me, if all the other cars in the org were consistently running up front week after week, I’d be looking at the driver crew chief combo….

  15. SHR buys/leases engines? I find that strange given the Haas tooling empire. Haas should be cranking out their own engines, and not depending on an outside builder.

    If you want to be in control of your destiny, you must have your own engine shop.

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