Written by Sean Mckean, Edited by Juan Arroyo
In a race with a surprising lack of parity, RCR’s Kyle Busch leads the most laps en route to his third win of the season.
This is Kyle Busch’s first win at Gateway and possibly serves as redemption for 2022, in which he barely finished second to Joey Logano.
Upon the drop of the green flag, the race saw some early drama. Going into turn one on lap two, Tyler Reddick ended up spinning, but he continued unharmed.
Though the caution for the spin turned into a red flag due to lightning in the area, the race resumed about an hour later.
The stage went caution-free until the end, with RCR's Kyle Busch taking the stage win ahead of Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.
The early incidents continued as Stage 2 began. Ross Chastain spun Michael McDowell going into turn one on lap 52.
Though the damage was minimal for McDowell, it didn't help Chastain's reputation. When the green flag came back out, Ryan Blaney took control early in the stage after a side-by-side duel with Kyle Busch.
He held the lead until lap 92 when Carson Hocevar brought out the next caution. Hocevar's brake rotor failed, causing him to crash into the wall. This crash resulted in terminal damage for Hocevar, who was running in the top 20 as a replacement for Corey LaJoie.
To add to the list of cars with did not finish (DNF), Chase Briscoe went to the garage just two laps later due to a damaged radiator. It is speculated that he picked up the damage from running over Hocevar's rotor on the track.
The next restart was similar, with Blaney retaining the lead convincingly. Despite Kyle Busch's efforts to catch up, Ryan Blaney won Stage 2, with Hamlin once again finishing in the top three.
During pit cycles, Blaney and Busch were surpassed, leaving Tyler Reddick and William Byron to lead the field to the green in the final stage
Byron gained the lead and held it until lap 173 when the next caution came out. The yellow flag came out due to another brake rotor failure, this time by Tyler Reddick.
He rode the wall around turn one at high speed, resulting in terminal damage. After taking two tires in the last pit cycle, Kyle Larson led the field to the green flag but lost the lead to Kyle Busch after just one lap.
The race was interrupted by a second red flag on lap 199 when Noah Gragson had a left rear tire failure, causing him to spin and eventually crash into the outside wall. Gragson climbed out of the car unharmed.
On the restart on lap 204, Kyle Busch retained his lead with little challenge. However, the green flag period was short-lived as Christopher Bell got spun by Austin Cindric battling for P11 on lap 205.
Kyle Busch kept the lead on the next restart, but it was interrupted by another caution, this time for Gray Gaulding's car grinding to a halt on the front stretch.
With Kyle Busch maintaining the lead on the subsequent restart, the theme of many cautions continued. Austin Dillon got turned by Austin Cindric going into turn one, resulting in a collision with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Both drivers hit the outside wall, and Stenhouse's damage was terminal.
This incident led to a third red flag for repairs to the SAFER barrier. After the repairs were done hastily, a green flag run finally ensued.
Kyle Busch once again edged out a lead, and although it seemed like he would cruise to victory, it was curtailed by yet another caution with five laps to go. This time, Bubba Wallace experienced a brake rotor failure, crashing similarly to Reddick and Hocevar, and causing race-ending damage.
On the ensuing overtime restart, Busch had the clear run he needed to take the checkered flag. Denny Hamlin finished second with a strong performance, and Joey Logano managed to sneak ahead of Kyle Larson to finish third, while Larson finished fourth. Martin Truex Jr. rallied back to fifth after a slow pit stop earlier.
If you'd like to catch the next bit of action, NASCAR will be back in Sonoma for some road course racing on June 11.