Kyle Busch found his way through the final turn wreckage at Talladega Superspeedway to finish third in the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 on Sunday, while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Chase contender Denny Hamlin came home 14th after biding his time in the back of the pack for much of the day.
In spite of going one lap down following a pit road speeding penalty, Busch, driving the #18 M&Ms Toyota Camry at Talladega, regained his lost lap by way of the “lucky dog” on Lap 139, taking on fuel only during the pit stop and restarting third on Lap 143. Busch would get shuffled back in the pack in ensuing laps, but worked himself back to the front in the closing laps, missing the 25-car pile-up in the final turn of the race and crossing the line third.
“Our day was pretty good,” said Busch in the post-race press conference. “I had mentioned it earlier that we had a really, really fast race car and drove up toward the front a few times. We were able to make the outside lane move a couple times. We pushed Junior to the lead early today, and there was a time when I think it was green flag pit stops. And I just did not get slowed down near fast enough for the first segment, and I got busted for speeding, so that was my fault.”
Hamlin, who started 23rd in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, bided his time in the back of the pack for much of the race – his average running position for the race was 29.6 and he spent just eight laps in the top 15. He did receive damage in the final-turn “Big One,” but was able to limp home in 14th (unofficial).
Joey Logano, in the #20 Home Depot Toyota, received damage early in the race when Cole Whitt wrecked in the #33 and slid into Logano’s right side. He lost a lap during repairs, but was back in the pack when Hamlin lost the draft and was able to work with his teammate to regain the pack. Logano was unofficially listed with a 32nd-place finish.
Matt Kenseth won the race, followed across the finish line by Jeff Gordon, Busch, David Ragan and Regan Smith. Hamlin still sits third in points, 23 point behind leader Brad Keselowski; Busch and Logano hold onto 13th and 18th, respectively.
Next week, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head home to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday, October 12th and 13th. Stay up-to-date with JGR at joegibbsracing.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR.
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