Texas Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on April 14, 2013 | 12:09 A.M. EST
After dominating Friday night’s Nationwide Series race for his fourth win in the first six races of the season, Busch came right back in the Sprint Cup Series main event for the Texas sweep. (Photo: Getty Images)
If there’s such a thing as a statement win this early in the season, Kyle Busch scored one Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
After dominating Friday night’s Nationwide Series race for his fourth win in the first six races of the season, Busch came right back in the Sprint Cup Series main event for the Texas sweep.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver came into the year after missing the Chase in 2012 but ending the campaign as one of the hottest drivers in the series. That momentum has more than carried over to the new year and Busch has turned into the most dominant driver in NASCAR, yes even more so than Jimmie Johnson.
The best thing that happened to Busch was being able to go back to what he loves doing most – racing. His penalty for punting Ron Hornaday under caution at the Texas truck series race two years ago was to stop running Nationwide and truck races.
But now that he’s able to run more often, it’s clear Busch is back on top of his game.
The big question will come in September when Busch, who with two wins is already guaranteed a Chase spot as at least a Wild Card, can make a serious run for the title. There’s no telling how many wins he’ll have by then but one thing is fore sure, a happy Busch is a successful Busch.
He’s hitting on both counts right now.
- The celebrated Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year battle between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick is not going the way most had predicted. After two straight Nationwide Series championships, most felt Stenhouse would run off and hide from his significant other in the race for ROY. But after seven races, it’s not as much of a landslide as you might think. Stenhouse had another rough outing in Texas that started with a trip into the wall early and fought through a long night in the Lone Star State. Patrick was way off as has been the case for most of her freshman season sans Daytona and Martinsville, but she wasn’t horrible. Keep in mind the criteria to name each year’s top rookie isn’t solely which driver finishes higher in the point standings. This could be an interesting story to watch develop.
- Kurt Busch missed out on winning the pole for Saturday night’s race to younger brother Kyle but still had a solid car – until his engine had fuel pick-up issues just past the halfway mark. The Furniture Row Racing team has been pretty impressive in the early going of the season and Busch has had the No. 78 Chevy running near the front of the field most weeks. But even with an alliance to Richard Childress Racing, things like Saturday night’s engine problem are unfortunately going to bite solo car teams more often than not.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a pre-race favorite to win Saturday night and looked to have the car to back up those predictions. That is until he lost power when a battery went kaput and suddenly Junior was two laps down to the field. Things were compounded when Earnhardt didn’t switch to the alternate battery and then was pegged for speeding on pit road. Those are the mysterious mechanical problems and mistakes that the No. 88 team has been able to alleviate for the most part over the last two seasons. But it goes to show you even the powerhouses like Hendrick Motorsports have to deal with gremlins from time to time.
- The controversial NRA sponsorship clouded the weekend in Texas. Many fans took to social media to express their outrage that the FOX telecast included only limited mentions of the title sponsor. In reality there was no hidden agenda on the network’s part but rather a financial ramification of the sponsorship package. Race title sponsors must purchase additional ad time with television networks in order to receive more mentions and exposure. The NRA chose not to support its sponsorship with an ad package, thus FOX was only responsible for mentioning the name of the race once per hour, as is the contract for every event. Sorry to force several black helicopters out of the sky.