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Kyle Busch not satisfied with top-five finish

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- When Sunday's Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway went into overtime following a caution with less than 10 laps remaining, Kyle Busch had one final opportunity to score his first win of the season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
 
Unfortunately for the defending series champion, it didn't pan out.
 
Despite having two fresher tires than those in front of him, Busch was unable to advance and contend for the win, eventually bringing his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota home in fourth place.
 
“I thought we had a shot if we had restarted fourth, but restarting fifth on the inside behind two guys that had old tires, (our) chances were zero," Busch said on pit road after the finish.
 
When the yellow flag appeared for an incident involving Kasey Kahne, race leader Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) and Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) opted to stay out. Carl Edwards (JGR), Busch, and several others opted for a quick two-tire stop, leaving Busch fifth on the final restart.
 
“We were fourth or fifth (before the caution) and then we finished fourth so it didn't make a difference," crew chief Adam Stevens said. “We weren't in a situation where we were going to win by staying out; it was kind of a deal where we had to do the opposite of what the leader did.
 
“But all in all we had a fast car, it was a competitive weekend; it's always disappointing when you don't win but I think we'll look back and say we've got a good starting point for next time we come here and that next race here is really important."
 
Busch started on the pole and led the first 74 laps of the 313-lap race. A two-tire stop during the first caution (Lap 53-59) kept the No. 18 out front but eventually the payoff faded, as did Busch's lead, with Earnhardt Jr. moving to the point on Lap 75.
 
Second when the caution flag flew for a third time (on Lap 164), Busch had a problem-filled stop and re-started 18th.
 
“I screwed up," Busch said of the incident that saw him drive too deep into his pit box and stop too close to pit wall.
 
“He thought he was over the line and he was not," Stevens said. “He went to throw it in reverse and must have still had it in first gear and then it did lurch over the line. Then he had to back up.
 
“Aside from that he was way too close to the wall. Backing up made no difference on being too close to the wall. It was going to be bad regardless but backing up cost us a couple of additional spots we didn't need to give up."
 
Within 30 laps, however, Busch was back in the top 10, and eventually the top five.
 
“But it's slow going when you get into the top seven or eight," Stevens said. “A couple of guys were able to drive through the field ... you have to execute in these races; you can't make many mistakes."
 
Busch, tied for the points lead with Kevin Harvick, has led laps in all four races this season and has finished no worse than fourth. Still, he knows the goal is to get back to Victory Lane.
 
“You could be happy with top-five and you could be happy with running up front and doing those things," he said. “Those are the things you're supposed to do, but ultimately we've got to get to Victory Lane.
 
“We're close. We'll see if we can hit one here on the West Coast swing, maybe next week in California, and put ourselves in."

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