Busch steals Bristol win after Reddick, Briscoe tangle

The Cup Series raced on dirt for the second straight year at the Tennessee half-mile track

Kyle Busch celebrates after winning Sunday night's NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol. (Wade Payne / AP Photo)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Busch backed into the record book by stealing a win at dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway.

That’s what he’d say if it had been anyone else, right?

Busch won his first race of the season Sunday night by sliding past the leaders as Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe spun racing for the win. Busch tied Hall of Famer Richard Petty’s NASCAR record for victories in consecutive years at 18.

But his tune was far different at Bristol than it was six weeks ago when Alex Bowman won at Las Vegas and an irate Busch complained that Bowman is “the same (expletive) guy who backs into every (expletive) win that he ever (expletive) gets.”

When it was Busch’s turn to inherit a win, he had no problem collecting the checkered flag.

“We got one, you know?” Busch said. “It doesn’t matter how you get them, it’s all about getting them.”

Later, he acknowledged that he did “back into one” but said it felt good.

Reddick was chasing the first Cup win of his career, led 99 of the 250 laps and controlled the race from the final restart with 24 laps remaining. Lapped traffic gave Briscoe a shot, and Briscoe made his move in the third turn as he tried to slide inside past Reddick.

The move backfired and both cars spun out of control. Busch, who was running third, cruised by for his first win of the season.

Busch won for the ninth time in Cup at Bristol — first time in two dirt races — and was booed by the smattering of fans who waited out two rain delays that pushed the first race on Easter Sunday since 1989 to nearly four hours.

“I mean, man, I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now. This is awesome. I didn’t do anything,” Busch said of the 1999 race in which Earnhardt was booed for bumping Terry Labonte out of the way for the win.

Reddick finished second and faulted himself for not holding off Briscoe. Briscoe went from two turns away from the win to 22nd and immediately found Reddick on pit road to apologize.

“I was going to spin out, I think, either way,” Briscoe said. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to let you know. I am sorry. I wish you would have won.”

Reddick was understanding and admitted he should have been more defensive.

“I don’t think I did everything right. Briscoe was able to run me back down there,” Reddick said. “I should have done a little bit better job of just, I don’t know, I shouldn’t have let him get that close. He ran me back down. Worked really hard to do that.

“I mean, you’re racing on dirt, going for the move on the final corner. It’s everything that as a driver you hope to battle for in his situation. Made it really exciting for the fans. I should have done a better job and pulled away so he wasn’t in range to try to make that move.”

The Cup Series heads next to Talladega Superspeedway where Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner and Bubba Wallace in October earned his first career victory.