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Kyle Busch rallies for 3rd-place finish at home track

Kyle Busch’s third-place run at his home track wasn’t an easy Sunday drive.

Twice during Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch faced setbacks that put a potential good run in jeopardy.

But the Las Vegas native overcame an early spin and his left front tire coming off under caution to finish third, his 14th top-10 at the track. Despite rallying for a strong finish, Busch wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“No,” Busch said with a smirk when asked if he was happy with his rally. “Anything short of a win here is a loss. We’d love to get another win before the year’s out, but just not today.”

Busch started 18th, but quickly found his way into the top 10, running as high as fifth in Stage One. On lap 78, Busch spun off Turn 4, but he slid through the grass and didn’t suffer any damage.

After making his way back into the top five, Busch came down pit road on lap 229 in fourth for pit stops with the rest of the field after a caution.

Busch came off pit road third, but his left front tire was smoking. The tire eventually came off down the back straightaway, which will result in a four-race suspension for Busch’s crew chief and two other crew members.

Busch admitted he left his pit stall a little bit early, which could have caused the lug nut to not be fully tightened.

After a lap 240 caution, Busch came down pit road again to put on four fresh tires. He restarted 18th but raced his way to third, as he battled second-place finisher Ross Chastain in the final laps.

“We all worked hard and dug in and gave it a good effort,” Busch said. “Good stuff there by the guys. … We started with a fast car, so that helped things.”

Noah Gragson, the other Las Vegan in the field, finished 11th, his best finish at a non-superspeedway track in the Cup Series.

Gragson has filled in for Alex Bowman in the No. 48 car for Hendrick Motorsports after Bowman suffered a concussion in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway. Gragson is scheduled to be in the car for the next two races.

After this week, Busch has three races left with Joe Gibbs Racing after he announced last month he would be joining Richard Childress Racing to drive the No. 8 car in 2023.

Busch said getting a win before the end of the season would mean a lot, as Joe Gibbs Racing is one win away from the team’s 200th Cup Series victory.

Even though Busch is leaving the team, he said helping them reach that milestone would be special.

“That’s significant in itself and just a grand number,” Busch said. “It would be nice to have my ugly face on that 200th win so they can look at it forever.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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