Get out the broom because Kyle Busch has done it again.
Following a late-race pass on Martin Truex, Jr. on the final restart, Kyle Busch won the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after leading just 34 laps. Busch wins for the second straight week in the Sprint Cup Series and fourth straight race in NASCAR’s three national series.
“I think the racetrack actually kept coming to us as the night progressed,” Busch said following career win No. 36. “Got a great wife, great son and having a blast. Living the dream with [crew chief] Adam Stevens and Joe [Gibbs, car owner].”
“We had a fast car, probably good enough to win,” Earnhardt said. “Martin probably had the best car but the best car doesn’t always win. We finished up there as we should have. I had a blast inside the car. A lot of sliding around sideways, good, hard racing.”
If everything is bigger in Texas, than the loss for Truex, Jr. must be massive as the No. 78 driver led a race-high 141 laps before late-race pit strategy took him out of the top spot, falling to a sixth-place finishing spot on slightly older tires than the surrounding competition.
“It’s just the way it goes,” Truex said. “We just kept getting yellows and caution laps and the tires kept getting more air in them. It’s frustrating but it’s racing. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards suffered a similar blow as the No. 19 driver had a loose wheel which forced him to pit road shortly after a late restart. Battling back to seventh, leading 124 laps from pole makes you think about what could have been.
“It was actually quite fun trying to come up through there,” Edwards said. “The first half of the race I wanted to be shorter, last half I wanted to be longer.”
Starting with a two-hour rain delay, the relatively clean night in the Lone Star State saw only a few cautions before the final 80 laps. In the end, there were seven cautions that halted the field with the most significant occurring with 46 laps to go when Austin Dillon spun in Turn 2, swallowing 12 cars on the backstretch.
“It’s part of trying to win a race,” Dillon said of the contact with Denny Hamlin to start the accident. “We put ourselves to be put up front thinking that two laps [on tires] wouldn’t mean much, but it did.”
Among those also involved in the accident were Brian Scott, Clint Bowyer, Michael Annett and all three cars from Richard Childress Racing, with both Paul Menard and Ryan Newman joining Dillon in the mess.
For Jimmie Johnson, the contact spelled no further damage after what he received earlier after he made contact with Kyle Busch early on pit road, punching the front nose of his No. 48. Despite the damage, Johnson recovered to finish fourth.
“Everybody was checking up and I hammered the back of the [No.] 18,” Johnson said. “We overcame a lot today. With all the damage and the adversity, we went through tonight to come home fourth is really good for this Lowe’s Chevrolet.”
Right in his wake was rookie Chase Elliott who grabbed his first Sprint Cup top-5 finish as he drove the No. 24 to fifth spot after playing a little tire strategy games late.
“It was, I think, a step in the right direction,” Elliott said with his fourth top 10 of 2016. “We’ll keep digging at it. We’re definitely not satisfied with running fifth.”
Standing as a Toyota night in Texas – with the manufacture leading 319 of 334 laps – Ford found two standouts in the 500-mile event. Trevor Bayne ran a strong race for Roush Fenway Racing as he played strategy late, staying out to lead the race for 12 laps before finishing 15th.
Joey Logano had the only Ford in the top 14 as he came home third.
“I’m satisfied by how we worked as a team today,” Logano said. “That’s kind of been our weak point throughout this season so far. It’s nice to have a race with no issues, no mistakes by anyone.”
Ty Dillon grabbed Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing their second top-20 result of 2016 in the 20th position.
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