Kyle Busch uses a ‘secret weapon’ to get a much need third place finish at Richmond

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - JULY 29: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 X World Wallet Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway on July 29, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Since moving to Richard Childress Racing this season Kyle Busch has had his struggles. Yes, he has three wins but all on tracks 1 mile or longer. On the short tracks he’s struggled however, with one his better finishes coming at Richmond Raceway in April where he finished 14th.

Busch has six wins at Richmond and was hoping to improve on that finish and maybe pick up Richmond win number 7 Sunday.

He finished the first Stage Sunday outside the top 10 but was able to rally to sixth in the second Stage. The problem according to Busch was that the car wasn’t set up for long green flag runs.

“We certainly fought hard on the long runs,” Busch said. “It was after about lap 50 that we really dropped off and fell off. But the first 50 laps, we could hang on and do OK.”

The problem was the lack of caution periods during the 400-lap race. The only natural caution occurred on lap 392 just eight laps from the end.

Busch said that as the race wore on, he actually used a “secret weapon” to remain competitive.

“I ran the heck out of this engine today,” he said. “I think I spent most of the race in fourth gear, where about everybody else was fifth gear. It just helped me the way I was driving, and it got us a good, third-place finish.”

That third-place finish, thanks to his “secret weapon” was his best finish on a short track this season.

“We needed something like this to be solid on the short-tracks and to kind of get our momentum back heading in the right direction.,” Busch said. “Happy with what we’ve got right here.”

The news was good for both of the RCR entries. Busch’s teammate Austin Dillon didn’t finish inside the top 10 in either Stage. Like Busch, his Chevrolet was set up for shorter runs.

“In the middle of the run, it would really go, but by that time, it was kind of over,” Dillon said. “I don’t know if the track tightened up for us a little bit as we went. We’d hit it in the middle, but by the end, I was really proud of that last restart. It was a good one.”

A late surge on the final restart saw Dillon join Busch inside the top 10, in 9th. They were the only Chevy’s to finish inside the top 10.

“It was a solid race for us all day,” Dillon said. “We weren’t that great in the beginning and we just kind of tuned on it. We got really good at the end of Stage Two and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy was pretty solid.

“Last week was tough – I feel like that should have been two top-10’s in a row, but we’ll take it. We’ve had a rough year all-in-all, but to get a top-10 here at Richmond (Raceway), it means the world.”

Chris Buescher won the race in a Ford; Denny Hamlin was second in a Toyota.

Greg Engle