It was hardly the way Busch would have wanted to finish his time at Phoenix Racing, the team which had literally saved his racing career by taking him in after his abrupt split from Penske Racing at the end of 2011 that had come too late to get a top-level ride elsewhere. Despite the controversial final minutes of his time in the #51, Busch was seen embracing the Phoenix crew members in the garage area despite his cutting comments a few minutes earlier about their inability to get the full fuel loaded into the car on the earlier stop.
"That was more of an emotional hug of, thanks for all the work this year," said Busch. "It just came to an end short."
Whether Busch will now début with Furniture Row Racing next weekend as planned rather depends on whether NASCAR
feel like throwing a ban in his direction; in the meantime, the current driver of #78 will be walking the other way down pit road to climb into Busch's vacant #51 in what's turned out to be a straight swap between the two squads.
After the caution for Busch's wreck, there was another 35-lap green flag stint before a debris caution on lap 139; and after that the race ran for almost another 40 caution-free laps before the caution for McMurray's accident on lap 182 that set up what proved to be the most ill-fated and expensive green-white-chequered finish of all time.
As virtually the sole man left standing by the end, Matt Kenseth found himself in victory lane - which he found hard to believe, since the team had never felt that it had succeeded in keeping up with the track conditions all afternoon and he'd almost wrecked on lap 42 when he got an accidental tap from team mate Biffle that took the save of the day to avert disaster. There was another near-miss on lap 147, and then at the final restart he'd banged into Clint Bowyer as the two ran side-by-side.
"The track kept getting looser for me as the day went on and we never could get it tightened up," he confessed. "There were just certain spots on the track I couldn't run and make it work. We were really loose and we were on the bottom and I had people pushing me and people outside of me it was just really hard to control.
"On the last lap, that's why I chose the middle groove," he said. "I knew I couldn't be on the bottom or I'd get spun out, so I had to run the middle or the top to try to make a move."
Kenseth had gone past Stewart, and then Stewart took out virtually everyone in sight leaving Kenseth with a free pass to the winners' circle. It's his first race win since the Daytona
500 - another restrictor plate race - which kicked off the 2012 season in February, and the first time he's won at Talladega.
"I'm really proud to be in victory lane with these guys, said Kenseth as he celebrated with his team. "They worked on it hard today. We had an up and down day. We had a couple of near-misses on the track, and had to work our way back through the pack two or three times. We had the car pretty loose and pretty tough at times. But glad it all worked out for us in the end."
Full race results
and Sprint Cup Championship standings