Kyle Busch turned 31 years old Monday.
And while he no doubt received many birthday gifts -- including an awesome cake made up mostly of product provided by primary sponsor Skittles (6,000 pieces of the candy, in fact) -- it appears that the one Busch may treasure most was the knowledge that he put Talladega Superspeedway in his rear-view mirror for nearly another six months.
Despite finishing second in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota behind only race winner Brad Keselowski in Sunday's GEICO 500 at the 2.66-mile track, Busch did not appear that excited about it when he met with the media afterward.
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"It was all right, I guess," Busch said. "We had some decent speed, had a decent car. Just lucky, I guess, to come home with a topâfive finish and be in second.
"Our Skittles Camry was fast, but just wasn't in the right place at the right time. Brad being out front, not having a lot of formation behind me, I never got enough momentum to get up to him or try to make a move on him. He was so far out protecting his lane, the race was pretty much his. That's about it."
Except that wasn't all Busch had to say after Sunday's race, during which 33 of the 40 cars in the field were involved in one accident or more. Busch admitted that he felt fortunate to be one of the few to escape the carnage, which was high even for Talladega.
Busch actually blamed the intelligence level of the Sprint Cup drivers, suggesting that perhaps because many teams thought bad weather was on its way they drove more aggressively from the very beginning. Although threatening weather was all around the track for most of the afternoon, it never interfered with the race.
"I'm not sure if guys thought weather was coming or something like that," Busch said. "You know, it's just Talladega. It is what it is. These cars, you try to get a little bit aggressive, start bumping people and pushing people, they're real easy to get out of control.
"I really don't know why we're bumping and pushing and everything else, because these cars, they go slower when you push. Makes a lot of sense. That's how stupid we are."
Busch said he was stunned to look around him prior to the final restart and see all the damaged cars lined up not only behind him, but also in front of him.
"Just looking in my mirror, looking for that final restart, seeing the amount of cars behind me that didn't have damage, I think I probably counted four, and I was (lined up) sixth," he said. "Maybe there were eight or 10 of us that didn't have what seemed like some sort of bandage. Two of them in front of me had it on their cars.
"About everybody had some sort of damage and was tore up. I don't think there was a car that came out of this place without needing the body all redone."
With two wins in the books already this season at Martinsville and Texas, Busch added that he's already locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup and really wished he never had to climb into his car at all at Talladega on Sunday.
"I hate it. I'd much rather sit at home," Busch said. "I got a win. I don't need to be here."
That won't be the case on Oct. 23, when the Sprint Cup Series returns for the fall race at 'Dega in the middle of the Chase. That event could go a long way toward determining whether or not Busch is able to successfully defend his 2015 Sprint Cup championship.