Kyle Busch finishes and impresses in his first Rolex 24

#14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3, GTD: Parker Chase, Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada, Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch was tired, but happy Sunday afternoon. The reigning NASCAR Cup champion had just completed his first IMSA 24 Hour race at Daytona.

Busch raced in a GTD class AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. After missing qualifying Thursday, the team started 16th out of 18 GTD entries. After his first stint Saturday night, Busch had the car back on the lead lap and in sixth. Break problems would later sent the car to the garage and left them many laps down, but with a ninth place finish in the class.

“There was a lot going on and a lot to learn and kind of pick up on and figure out,’’ Busch said of his first Rolex run. “Overall it was good. We had a lot of fun, I enjoyed it. Just being able to get back in a race car again, kind of my season warm-up if you will, and to be able to go out there and run a ton of laps and have a good go of it.

“Unfortunately, we just got a little behind with the brake change there, had some issues on the right-front caliper. I guess that got us a little bit further back than we wanted to be. We just didn’t have the long run pace.’’

His team owner this weekend, former IndyCar Series champion Jimmy Vasser, was glad to have had Busch behind the wheel for one race.

“A great team effort,’’ Vasser said. “With the troubles we had, nobody gave up, everybody pitched in. And speaking on Kyle, he impressed.

“I’m not sure why he impressed. He’s a NASCAR champion. He’s won more NASCAR races in the modern day than anybody but it takes a lot of confidence and guts to jump into a discipline that he’d never really done before and he did it with ease.

“He was really, really impressive. He was running times of the top sports car pros. It was a joy to have him. He’s a very serious guy, but he was a joy to have on the team and really added a lot for our people to see how a true professional works. Not that we don’t have them here, but he’s a great champion and a true champion.’’

Busch said while he remains open to making a second Rolex start, he wants to look back at the weekend before making any plans.

“Too soon to say,’’ Busch said. “I think I will digest all of this and figure it all out. I enjoyed the experience and being able to get out there and do it.”

Greg Engle