Kyle Busch gets second straight top five with Phoenix finish
Sunday saw Kyle Busch claim his second consecutive top-five finish of the year.
And for the second week in a row, Busch lamented how much better his Joe Gibbs Racing team needs to be.
“Learned that we have to be a hell of a lot better than we were,” Busch said after his third-place finish. “We weren’t very good when we unloaded, we made a lot of ground, but still not enough ground as I would have wanted to race with some of the top guys.
“I felt like we were a fifth or sixth-place car probably and we were able to come out with a third. Good for us with that effort. We need some points right now. We have to climb the ladder back and get back where we need to be.”
Busch was among a group of drivers who pit with 33 laps to go in the scheduled distance, with Busch getting four new tires. The fresh tires and three cautions, including one that created overtime, helped Busch chase down the leaders, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.
But Busch, the defending winner of the race, didn’t think his No. 18 Toyota had enough in it to have a crack at the win in overtime.
“I wouldn’t say we had a shot, we never had fire-off speed today,” Busch said. “We were really slow to fire-off and later in the going we were getting better with longevity, but still we were a ways off. Felt like that when we unloaded and we made some ground on it and got it a heck of a lot better, but just couldn’t get it where we needed it there throughout the race. The 2 (Brad Keselowski) was probably the fastest car. The 22 (Joey Logano) was pretty quick and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was pretty quick.”
Busch was the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to get through the race unscathed.
Denny Hamlin placed 20th after he was involved in a wreck with Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski in Stage 1. Erik Jones finished 28th after he spun and backed into the wall on Lap 252. Martin Truex Jr. was eliminated and finished 32nd following a wreck on a Lap 283 restart.
Truex was hit from behind by Aric Almirola and pancaked the outside wall in Turn 1.
Despite having race-winning speed in the last three races, on-track incidents and pit road miscues have prevented Truex from placing better than 14th in those races.
“I just got ran over,” Truex told Fox. "(Almirola) ran into the back of me earlier getting into (Turn) 1. I hung on to it. These restarts are crazy, it’s fanned out. The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was in front of me. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come up in front of me on the short chute or not. Then the 10 (Aric Almirola) ran into us. Can’t finish a race, it sucks.”