Busch says victory “takes pressure off” while they focus on improvement

While other drivers fell victim to flat tires during the course of the Auto Club 500, Kyle Busch was able to survive and pick up the victory.

“It’s exciting to be able to win a race this early in the season, although Joe thinks it’s been forever, and to put a winner’s sticker on our roof is certainly good,” Busch commented post-race. “it just gives us a little bit of — I wouldn’t say relaxation, but it certainly takes the pressure off of winning and making the Chase.”

For the second straight year, Busch took the victory at Auto Club Speedway with a last lap three-wide pass. Last year he got by Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin while they battled it out. This year, he was able to get by Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart while they were battling for the lead off of turn two.

“Once I was able to do that, I exited Turn 2 with Kurt and Tony side by side in front of me, and then I was kind of on an island and it seemed like everybody behind me was racing, too,” Busch explained the last lap. “So it gave me an opportunity to not have to mess with anybody, and back down into Turn 1 after we took the white for the final lap, Kurt and Tony were still side by side, they went off in there.  I was going to shoot the middle because I saw Tony going to the bottom, but as soon as he went in and got to the bottom he started sliding up the racetrack, so I had to do some wheeling and dealing to get myself to cut low and get underneath Tony, and when I did that and accelerated off the corner, I passed both those guys but Kyle Larson was right on me.

“Luckily, I just got a good enough run off Turn 2 that I got some distance between him and I before Turn 3.  I don’t know how close he got or where he was or what happened.  I was just focused on forward, and luckily we made it back, and we took the checkered, so that was pretty cool.”

Busch battled Larson on Saturday’s Nationwide Series race with Larson getting the win that day. With Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, Busch got the victory while Larson drove to second and his best career finish.

“It gives him the perfect opportunity on Saturdays to perform well on Sundays and vice versa,” Busch commented on Larson. “Now that he’s a Cup guy and performing well on Sundays, it gives him the confidence and the belief in himself and his team that he can do it Saturday and Sunday both.”

Throughout the course of the race, many drivers saw tire issues throughout the day that took them out of contention. Busch and Larson, meanwhile, had no issues that brought him to pit road early or hurt their performance.

“I don’t know what it’s a testament to, but our team believes it’s too low of air pressure and that’s what those were doing to get them to wear funny and essentially blow out during the run,” Busch commented. “We never had any issues during the whole race, I don’t think the 11 did, I don’t think the 20 did, so we’re all good.  Overall the performance of the tires I felt like were fine.  I had no issues with them.  I think you just — it’s sort of like playing with fire.  If you pour too much gas on it or let too much air out of it, the thing is going to go boom.”

Now with a win under his belt, Busch is focused on winning more races and improving his package better as he feels that they need to do some work – as a whole organization.

“We’re kind of all over the place, I feel like,” Busch says in speaking of himself and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. “But all in all, with the race that we had today, to be in victory lane is a huge relief.  We’re excited about that and now we’ve just got to put our focus forward on continuing to work hard and look forward to the next few weeks.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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