Elliott ‘not surprised’ with Busch’s quick success at RCR

Busch, who moved from his longtime home at Joe Gibbs Racing to RCR in the offseason, rallied from a pit road speeding penalty early in the race to cruise to victory over Elliott Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.

Busch finally ran down then-leader Ross Chastain on Lap 143 of 200 and maintained his lead through a final round of green-flag pit stops. After Elliott worked his way up to second, the closest he would get to Busch’s No. 8 Chevrolet was the final margin of 2.998 seconds.

The win allowed Busch to set a new NASCAR record with at least one win in at least 19 consecutive seasons in the Cup Series. He was tied with Richard Petty previously.

“Congratulations to Kyle. For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool,” Elliott said after the race. “He’s always been really good to me, so happy for them.

“That’s mind-boggling to me that anyone is surprised that (Busch) is a fantastic – one of the best – race car drivers to ever do this. That didn’t change overnight.

“So, I’m not surprised, and anybody who is, should rethink their NASCAR knowledge.”

Although Elliott never led a lap Sunday, the runner-up finish was much-needed for his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team.

Elliott was caught up in a wreck in last weekend’s season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and ended up 38th.

“We obviously didn’t run very good there toward the end of the year last year, and just everybody really went to work hard over the winter to try and get better,” Elliott said. “Appreciate everybody on our NAPA team for just sticking with it and sticking with each other.

“Obviously, I think we still have some work to do, but it was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do. So that’s always a good thing.”

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