Busch, Truex suffer heartbreak at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 04: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, drives after the engine expires during the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

For two of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was nothing short of an absolute heartbreak.

Playoff driver Kyle Busch led a race high 155 laps and won Stage 2. In the closing laps it appeared that it was his race to lose. Sadly, during the race’s ninth and final caution it all came apart. During the caution Busch’s Toyota began to smoke, the engine had expired, and all Busch could do was coast to the garage and end the night with a DNF in 30th position.

“Engine broke,” Busch said. “Just unfortunate circumstances for us tonight. The guys did a great job and brought a really fast M&M’s Toyota Camry. Just real proud of the effort. All the stuff the guys have done and gone through – just all the news and everything that’s going on all year. They’ve dug in and never given up and continue. Just had a great car and don’t have anything to show for it. That’s what I really, really hate about it.”

As for how he was feeling.

“I don’t know,” he said. “The sun will come up tomorrow.”

“We were obviously leading a lot of laps and had a really fast car,” he added. “Proud of the guys and their fight. The guys on pit road tonight were awesome. Had a lot of fun being up front, leading laps like that and show what we’re made of. I just hate that we can’t finish with the points we need.”

Busch took the lead for the final time thanks to the misfortune of his teammate Martin Truex Jr. Truex failed to make the Playoffs this season. He appeared to have his first win of 2022 well in hand. He led 48 laps and was leading Busch when on lap 334 he slowed with engine issues. Not long after he was in the garage with a DNF as well and scored 31st. After going winless all season, and missing the Playoffs, Truex was emotional on missing out on win.

“I lost power steering and the car started overheating real quick and losing power,” he said, trying to hold his emotions in check. ”Kicked some belts off or something. Thanks to all my guys and everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), TRD, everybody at Bass Pro for supporting us all year. It’s been tough and this is another tough night for sure, but we’ll come back next week and fight again.”

Truex said he was disappointed and upset.

“Just mad. Upset, angry,” he said. “We deserve better and no matter what we do this year it seems wrong. When we run good, stuff goes wrong and when we run bad, nothing happens. Just one of those years that we can’t get anything to go our way. It’s about the fifth time I should have won this race and I’ve only won it once so pretty pissed off.”

Greg Engle