Busch started sixth and by lap 19, he was battling teammate Joey Logano for the lead. By lap 23, he achieved his goal and held on to the lead. A caution came out around lap 30 when Brian Keselowski had a solo crash and upon the restart on lap 36, Busch had a great restart, jumping out about four car lengths. On lap 53 a caution came out for debris and Busch did not pit, keeping his lead. He lost the lead on lap 82 to Kasey Kahne, after getting caught up in lead traffic at the half-mile track. On lap 93, the race was red-flagged after a horrible wreck between Colin Braun and Steven Wallace (both were okay). When the race went back to yellow, Busch beat Kahne off pit road but four cars didn’t pit so he restarted fifth. With the four cars in front of him on old tires, he would have to work hard to regain his lead. He caught a break when Kahne’s car overheated and stayed on pit road during a caution but Busch still hadn’t regained his lead by lap 133 (started fourth). On lap 146, Busch got into Kelly Bires, spinning him into the wall bringing out a caution. He remained in the top 10 for most of the race. With 90 laps left, he was in 7th place. Busch moved up to third with 25 laps to go. He stayed there until the checkered flag.
Busch, the defending champion of the race, crashed five minutes into the first practice due to a problem with the right rear tire and could never seem to get it fixed. He started 38th and wasn’t making much noise, except for trying not to be lapped. On the second caution of the day, brought out by Clint Bowyer’s engine blowing up, he radioed about his car being very tight. He continued to have a bad day, with no grip and bad tires. Coming off of the third caution (lap 113), he was 25th. On lap 237, after complaining all day of no grip and other issues, his tire blew and hit the wall rather hard (the same problem his teammate Denny Hamlin had earlier in the race). After “the big one” on lap 342, Busch restarted 17th. With 60 laps to go, the moved up to 11th. When the late-race caution came out for teammate Joey Logano with 18 to go, he pitted and came out 7th. With 10 to go, he finished 9th.
Busch started on the outside of the front row at Bristol, which is no surprise at the track where he has five wins. He is even more favored to win with his new Crew Chief Steve Addington, who won both Bristol races with Kyle last year. While Joey Logano, the pole-sitter, led the first lap, Busch quickly took the lead away mid-lap 1. By lap 4, Jimmie Johnson took the lead from him. On lap 35, stuck in lap traffic, Busch took the lead back. When Dave Blaney hit the wall for a caution on lap 40, Busch’s teammate Brad Keselowski chose not to pit, leaving Busch to start fifth. Finally, on lap 98, Busch got back to the lead. On lap 125, Busch lost his lead on the restart to 2nd place Greg Biffle, saying he was tight and that his right front wasn’t on the track. Luckily, two laps later a caution came out for rain. When the track dried, he restarted third. It took until lap 215 to get back his lead. When the caution came out on lap 390 for rain, Busch lost the lead to his teammate to Keselowski, who did not pit again. It didn’t take long for Busch to regain the lead just a few laps later. With 18 laps left to go, Busch lost his lead to Biffle when a late-race caution came out. He decided to take four tires while most everyone else went for two and restarted 6th with three RFR cars in front of him and all-day rival Jimmie Johnson next to him. He never made it back to the front and came in third while Johnson won the race.