For the second week in a row, Kyle Busch had a fast car and for the second week in a row it appeared like he would be ending his day in Victory Lane celebrating what would be his 25th win in NASCAR's top series.
And like the week before at Las Vegas, Kyle Busch failed to win Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway because of a pit road speeding penalty that left him scrambling to reclaim his lost track position.
That Busch was still able to rally back and leave Bristol with a runner-up finish speaks to how fast his Toyota was, but it's a result Busch knows could have been better.
"It was a good run for us, battling back from our pit road penalty which we need to stop," Busch said. "If we didn't have so many of those, we'd be a lot better off."
"We'd be a lot better off" is an understatement when you consider how strong the No. 18 car looked throughout the weekend.
On Friday, Busch sped to the pole by establishing a new track record and then on Saturday he set fast time in both rounds of practice. All this left little doubt which driver was considered the favorite entering the Food City 500. And from the onset it appeared Busch would fulfill that expectation as he quickly established the No. 18 as the car to beat by leading the opening 55 laps.
But when Busch hit the pits for his first stop of the day, his race unraveled as he was caught speeding by NASCAR and subsequently had to go to the rear of the field and restarted 33rd.
From there it was an uphill battle.
Helping Busch as he worked his way back towards the front was that unlike last year's race, Bristol's new surface afforded the drivers the option of racing in multiple grooves. Side-by-side racing was prominent throughout the afternoon and eventually Busch clawed his way back near the top of the leadboard.
Busch even had a chance during a late-race restart to complete the comeback, but his car simply wasn't up to the task.
"Wish it was a little bit more," Busch said. "There at the end we were probably holding up the guys behind me, but track position is everything here. It's frustrating the way that is. I wish I could have kept up with the 5, but he took off, left us all. I was too tight at the end."