Did you expect Kyle Busch to win so soon? He didn’t

Kyle Busch in Auto Club victory lane(Getty Images)

Kyle Busch is an extraordinary talent in a race car and Richard Childress Racing proved last year that they are a competitive organization once again by winning a total of four races and placing drivers Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick in the NASCAR Playoffs. Even with all of that taken into consideration, winning a NASCAR Cup Series race in only their second outing together might seem to be a bit of a stretch. After all, every aspect of the new pairing was foreign to all parties.

Busch only joined RCR during the most recent off-season after parting ways with Joe Gibbs Racing. Reddick left to join forces with 23XI Racing which opened the seat in the No. 8 car.

Going into 2023, Busch was a new driver for RCR and he would be working with a new crew chief, a new spotter, a new pit crew, and even a new manufacturer. That can’t possibly lead to an immediate winning combination, right?

Well, it did. Busch won last Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. But it wasn’t as if he just fell into a win or had some crazy circumstance to play out. After taking the lead late in the going he paced the final 21 laps pulling away to a 3-second advantage by the time he took the checkered flag.

And more, this wasn’t just a flash in the pan situation. Busch drove to a competitive third-place finish in the Busch Light Clash inside the L.A. Coliseum to begin his relationship with RCR then raced among the front runners most of the day during the Daytona 500 and looked like a possible winner until a late-race crash ended his chances in the official season opener.

It certainly appears as if the two-time Cup Series champion and his RCR team have hit it off quite well. That observation, even to Busch, has come as a bit of a surprise. It isn’t that anyone thought he wouldn’t eventually find his way in the No. 8 Chevrolet but it would have been difficult to believe that such success would come so quickly, even for one of the sport’s most talented drivers and his capable crew.

Following the race in Fontana, Busch was asked that very question during his post-race media appearance.

“Truthfully, no,” he responded. “I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern. But also on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their results and success that they had last year with Austin. He ran second here last year, and Reddick was super, super fast. They were fast at the Clash before they broke, the 8 car was.”

Busch has driven for two of racing’s most prolific organizations in Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. Both of those experiences did not exactly end on a high note. Perhaps the 37-year-old driver is experiencing a new lease on life and RCR is in the midst of a revival. Still, this seems to be an awfully sudden win.

Busch believes the pieces are in place for success.

“It’s just been really, really cool, and it’s been a great piece of — we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR,” Busch stated. “I can’t say enough about Austin(Dillon) giving me a call, first and foremost. But then, Richard and Judy giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”

And finally Busch added, “I’m thankful to be a part of our Lucas Oil Chevrolet team today.”

The NASCAR Cup Series will move to Busch’s hometown track this weekend for the Pennzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.

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