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Kyle Busch wields masterful brush at Bristol

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 8, 2019 at 12:49 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — “Are you part of the show?” “No, I am the show.”

The sequence often repeated by 12-time Bristol Cup Series winner Darrell Waltrip certainly applies to Kyle Busch at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Once again during Sunday’s Food City 500, Busch was the most entertaining driver on the track. His eighth win at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” — in which he beat older brother Kurt for the victory — came with its own set of challenges.

After his No. 18 Toyota got spun out on the opening lap of the race, Kyle Busch was mired in 23rd when the race restarted.

By the time the first stage of the race ended on lap 125, he had moved up to sixth. He remained in the top 10 over the next 250 laps before taking the lead for the first time on lap 383.

He grabbed the lead by going to the inside and using the determination that has been a trademark of his career to pass Clint Bowyer. The effort from Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens drew praise from owner Joe Gibbs.

“I just admire Adam, Kyle and the team,” Gibbs said. “I think with Adam and Kyle, they have a way of fighting through adversity. Adam told Kyle, ‘Hey, the car is not really hurt.’ I think it probably took something away from the car, but they just did a great job fighting all day.”

That was the case even after Busch took the lead. Twenty laps later, Bowyer’s fast No. 14 Ford got back around him for the lead. Stevens and the crew led the efforts to get Busch out front the next two times.

After grabbing the lead on a lap 418 restart, Busch pulled away from the Team Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. However, the Fords had more speed and ran him down and passed him.

A caution for Kyle Larson’s No. 42 car slamming the wall on lap 478 changed the complexion of the race. The team kept Busch out on the track while Logano, Keselowski and the other leaders pitted for tires. That left the Busch brothers out front.

Kyle, known as the best in the business on restarts, quickly moved ahead, although Kurt hung with him for a dozen laps. With three laps to go, Kurt Busch drove the car deep in the turns, nearly losing control between 1 and 2. Kyle Busch sailed away for his eighth Bristol win.

Like him or not, Kyle Busch has been the modern-day master of Bristol. If his racing were a Picasso painting, BMS is the canvas on which his colorful cars and enormous talent are best exhibited.

The win tied him with Lee Petty for 10th on NASCAR’s all-time win list and left him a win behind Rusty Wallace, a Bristol master with nine victories on the high-banked short track.

“When you win these races, the numbers will just continue to add up,” Kyle Busch said. “Getting to Lee Petty, I mean, you’re starting to get into some really heavy company at the top 10 of the all-time wins list.

“I’ve just done my fair share and have been with some amazing people over the years that have gotten me to this number. We’ll just keep going.”

Not only will he keep going, he will keep being the show.