Two-time Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch has won almost every trophy in NASCAR and currently stands as one of the two active drivers with 60 Cup Series career wins. However, despite his achievement including two Cup Series Championships, one of the most valued trophies in the history of NASCAR has been missing from his record, the Daytona 500.
Busch has been chasing the Harley J. Earl Trophy for 18 years and over the weekend he had it in his sight and he was too close to clinching. Busch took the lead with three laps to go and he was ready to welcome his Daytona 500 dream to reality. However, things fell apart in the last minute and Daytona 500 turned out to be Daytona 530 as late-lap wrecks forced a two-lap overtime but it wasn’t still enough to end the show.
Busch led the 200 laps that were set to finish the day and went on to lead the two overtime laps battling door-to-door with Brad Keselowski and his teammate Dillon pushing him to the victory lane.
Despite Busch and his teammate Austin Dillon starting at the front in the first overtime start, William Byron came in and ruined the winning plan. Byron tried to make a move to the front position but his move was somehow miscalculated and he got into Dillon and spun him. Dillon tagged numerous cars including the leader Busch.
This called for a second overtime to determine the race winner. Following the wreck Busch was stretched to back positions and getting back to the front was an impossible mission. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who has just been recovering from a speeding penalty got the chance to hit the front and went on to end a 199-winless streak.
With his dreams being postponed to 2024, Busch had no other option other than wishing for 1998 rules to apply which is 99.9 impossible.
“If Only it was 98” Kyle Busch Daytona 500 Finish reaction.
If only it was ‘98… Really thought we had that one. Bummed but proud of our 8 group for sticking w it this wknd n giving us a real good backup car. Good things to come this yr. 👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/IJEFRyvCFt
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) February 20, 2023
In 1998, the late NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt Sr. took the RCR #3 to the victory lane in the 1998 Daytona 500. 25 years down the line, Bush was hoping to get the RCR #8 to the victory lane and he had all the numbers adding up but the final answers didn’t pan out as he had expected. 12 overtime laps added another 30 miles on track which left Ricky as the winner but if the overtime was eliminated, Kyle Busch would be now celebrating his first Daytona 500.
Speaking to a postrace interview, Busch admitted this was the first time he led the 200 lap but unfortunately luck wasn’t on his side. In his statement, Busch said
I think this is the first time I led Lap 200, I wish it was 1998 rules. Just used to it, and come down here every year to just find out when and where I’m going to crash and what lap I come out of the care center.
He also went on his Twitter account and wrote,
If only it was ‘98… Really thought we had that one. Bummed but proud of our 8 group for sticking w it this wknd n giving us a real good backup car. Good things to come this yr.
Having made his No.8 debut this season, Busch still remains winless with the new car and he hopes to get more wins for the car this season. Busch left JBR at the end of the last year’s season joining RCR Racing to take over from Tyler Reddick who signed with 23XI Racing.