BRISTOL, Tenn. — Get out the brooms, Rowdy did it again.
For the second time in history, a NASCAR driver has swept all three races in a weekend at a track, and for the second time that driver was Kyle Busch.
Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night, the NASCAR Xfinity race Saturday and finished it off with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Cup win was Busch’s 40th career victory in NASCAR’s premier series. It was also Busch’s sixth win at the half mile track.
“That one was a lot harder,” Busch said after climbing from the car on the frontstretch to cheers and boos. “That was all I had. I was running with my tongue hanging out, arms are jello, my throat hurts.”
Busch led 156 of the 500 laps Saturday night. Erik Jones led the most laps with 260, coming home second after chasing Busch late in the race. Denny Hamlin finished third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
Busch said Jones was strong racing him, but raced him clean.
“Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” Busch said. “I just can’t say enough about that young man. He’s a great kid, and I have a lot of respect for him. He raced me awesome out there like a great teammate and gave me the room when necessary, and raced me hard when necessary.”
Busch said the key was keeping up with adjustments.
“Adam Stevens and these guys never quit working on it,” he said. “Every single pit stop, we kept working on it, kept adjusting on it.”
When asked about the boos he heard when getting out of his car, Busch shrugged it off.
“I don’t care,” he said. “Make the noise, who cares?”
He expounded on that in victory lane, saying the win was for his fans.
“This is for Rowdy Nation,” Busch said. “Rowdy Nation is what fuels us to get around and get along. All the noise is good noise, that’s how I feel about it.”
He had even more to say when questioned about it in the post-race press conference.
“It don’t matter what I do or what I say or how much I try to change, you don’t change perception,” Busch told media after the race.
He said he received some motivation from a “fan” earlier in the day.
“There was this guy that was at one of my hospitality appearances today and he was giving me the bird the whole time, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I know I’m number one. I’ve been number one the past two nights,'” Busch said. “So then he gave me two and I was like, ‘Whelp, you know what? All you’re doing is solidifying that I already know.’ So it’s pretty awesome to be able to go out there, and I’m sure they’re still booing and whining and crying all the way home tonight. So they’re driving home mad, so people be careful.”
Michigan winner Kyle Larson looked strong early, leading 70 laps on the night before coming home ninth.
Jones said following the race the car tightened up at the end, and the lack of a late-race caution made it to where the team couldn’t get back ahead of it.
“It’s fun to have a night where you’ve got a really fast racecar and you’re up front leading laps,” Jones said. “It’s also a burden at the same time, because you’re letting all those guys be behind you and get better and better and improve on their cars to gain up on you. It’s hard to get your car better when you’re out front. You don’t really know what you need.”
“We had gotten a bit snug on the last run, and unfortunately didn’t have another stop to work on it,” Jones continued. “So I think that’s kind of what put us behind the eight ball at the end of the day.”
Jones said he was disappointed coming up one spot short.
“You don’t want to sound like you’re whining or being a sore loser by saying it sucks to run second, but it’s a bummer,” Jones said. “It hurts. You know, you want to win every race you’re in. This was the first shot that I really had to come really close to it in the Cup Series. Bristol is a really good racetrack for myself. Thought we had a shot at it all night. Led a ton of laps.”
“That good of a car, that’s Kyle Busch,” Jones said. “He won all three races here this weekend. So I feel like I’m close to him here, just trying to find that last little bit.”