FORT WORTH (Sports Network) – Kyle Busch capped off a perfect weekend at Texas Motor Speedway by winning Saturday night’s NRA 500.
Busch, who won the 300-mile Nationwide Series event at this fast 1.5-mile racetrack on Friday, started on the pole and led 171 of 334 laps in the Sprint Cup Series race here.
Martin Truex Jr. held the lead in the late going, but Busch beat Truex off of pit road during the last round of pit stop under caution with 20 laps to go. Busch then outran Truex to the finish line by 0.5 seconds for his 26th win in his 300th career Sprint Cup start. He claimed the pole for this race yesterday by setting a new track qualifying record in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Busch had won six Nationwide races and two Camping World Truck Series events at Texas but had yet to score a Sprint Cup victory here until now.
“(Crew chief) Dave Rogers and the guys gave me a great race car,” said Busch, who won his first Cup race in 16 attempts at Texas. “We ran up front all night long, but if it wasn’t for my pit crew, who is the most awesome group ever, they pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put me up front. And then we brought it home.”
Truex led 142 laps before his final pit stop. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has not won a race in NASCAR’s premier series since June 2007 at Dover (210 races ago).
The seventh and final caution for debris on lap 314 setup the last round of stops.
“I’m just disappointed,” Truex said. “The race was over when we got beat out of the pits. I was really worried that I was going to lose second, because (third-place runner) Carl (Edwards) was on the inside of me.”
Truex has finished in the runner-up spot six times now since his lone Cup victory almost six years ago.
“Man, I’m tired of finishing second. It’s getting old,” he noted.
Edwards finished third after dealing with an ill-handling car throughout the race.
“It was just insane,” said Edwards, who has won three previous races at Texas. “The car was really good in the beginning, but the engine started running poorly. And then it was the tail pipes. I thought the left-rear was falling off at one point.”
Greg Biffle, who is Edwards’ teammate at Roush Fenway Racing, finished fourth after winning this race one year ago.
Joey Logano placed fifth, despite having to start from the rear of the field. Logano’s car was not on the grid when the command was given to start engines. His No. 22 Ford failed pre-race inspection, as did his Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, in the No. 2 Ford. NASCAR confiscated the rear-end housing and other parts from their cars. Penalties for both teams could be forthcoming later in the week. Keselowski finished ninth after starting in his qualified position of 16th.
“These guys (No. 22 Penske Racing team) dug really, really hard all day to get this Ford on the racetrack,” Logano said. “It was a little too close for my comfort, having to start from the back and then work my way up. (Crew chief) Todd Gordon did a great job keeping everyone under control and not getting overwhelmed by everything … If you would have told me I’d finish fifth today, I would have given you a hug.”
Jimmie Johnson, the current points leader and last weekend’s race winner at Martinsville, finished sixth, followed by Aric Almirola and Brian Vickers, who substituted for the injured Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 JGR Toyota. Ryan Newman completed the top-10.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon ran among the top-10 for a majority of the 500-mile race, but both drivers encountered problems in the late going, which led to disappointing finishes for them. While running in the third spot on lap 188, Earnhardt experienced an electrical issue and had to pit for a new battery. He was then penalized for speeding on pit road, which put him four laps behind and led to a 29th-place run. Gordon led in the late stages but suffered a front suspension problem (damage to the left-front hub) with less than 30 laps remaining. It put him out of the race with a 38th-place finish.
Danica Patrick finished one spot ahead of Earnhardt in 28th, as she was three laps off the pace. Patrick started 42nd.
With the win, Busch moved up to third in the point standings, as he trails Johnson by 18 points. Busch has finished no worse than fifth in the last four races, including a victory three weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He failed to make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field last year.
“It’s really good,” Busch said. “We’ve had a great start to the season, and it feels amazing to keep this roll going.”
Keselowski, the defending series champion, trails Johnson by nine points heading into next week’s race at Kansas Speedway.
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