Kyle Busch held off Kevin Harvick to win Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The win marked Busch’s first of the season (44th of his career) and it followed-up four consecutive top-three finishes dating back to Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month.
“This has been a trying couple of months I guess,” Busch said. “You know after Daytona, we’ve just been on a roll of finishing really good and getting really pumped and excited about that and the momentum we were able to carry, but frustrated at the same time trying to get to Victory Lane.”
Busch led four times for 116 laps, including the final 30 for his third win at TMS.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “Any time you can win at a track that kind of isn’t maybe one of your favorites or isn’t one of your best, then it definitely means even more because it just – you try to focus on those tracks and make it a little bit more meaningful and a little bit more special to get it done.”
Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.
Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Clint Bowyer and William Byron completed the first 10 finishers.
Harvick and Busch won the first two stages. (See Stage Points)
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for next Sunday’s Food City 500.
How Busch Won: He dominated the last 100 laps of the race but it still wasn’t completely a cakewalk to the checkered flag for Busch. He got the jump on what turned out to be the final restart over Harvick but had to run a near perfect final laps to hang on to the number one spot. While Harvick did his best to try and close the margin he wasn’t able to catch Busch who was able to maintain the advantage for the win.
Who Had a Good Day: Harvick has finished in the top 10 in the last eight races at Texas but had to rebound from a bad pit stop due to a lug nut getting lodged in the jack, a loose wheel and an outside half of the pit box tire violation penalty (Read: Harvick Anything But Happy)…McMurray scored his first top-five finish since Charlotte last October and his first top 10 finish this season (Read More)…Jones had his best finish this season and in his Cup Texas career…Blaney notched his third top-five finish this season after only four in all of 2017…Byron scored his first top-10 finish in his seventh race after starting in the rear with an engine change (Read More).
Who Had a Bad Day: Martin Truex Jr.’s quest for a second win of the season ended early when a blown right-front tire sent him into the wall and out of the race on lap 81 (Read More)….Kyle Larson, who failed pre-race inspection three times and had to start from the rear of the field, suffered a similar fate when a blown tire on lap 126 put him into the Turn 2 wall (Read More)…The day’s biggest incident happened on lap 178 when Denny Hamlin got loose in the middle of the pack and triggered a seven car accident that swept up Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne and David Ragan. An 11-minute red flag was needed to clean-up the track (Read More)….Ryan Newman was another victim of a blown tire as he made heavy contact with the Turn 1 wall in the aftermath of his late race issue.
What Else Happened: Attrition played a big factor in Sunday’s race with several pre-race favorites, including Truex Jr. and Keselowski knocked out. That opened the door for others to take advantage of the opportunity as the garage kept getting filled with cars falling out of the race. The weather conditions and the track’s relatively new pavement did impact handling and set-ups throughout the afternoon.
Quotable: “Aerodynamics. The cars, side by side, they’re not meant to run that way,” Keselowski when asked what caused the multi-car accident that took him among others out of the race.
Notable: Harvick and Kyle Busch have finished 1-2 three times in 2018 and eight overall…Busch was the fifth driver to win in 2018…Wallace scored his second career top-10 finish in his 11th start…NASCAR announced after the race it was taking the cars of Harvick, Logano, Chase Elliott, McMurray, Kyle Busch and Jones to the wind tunnel…After post-race review a statement was issued by NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller on a no penalty call for a late-race pit stop for Harvick’s team: “It was a judgment call, and after conducting a post-race review of the incident an uncontrolled tire penalty for the 4 car would have been correct. We missed that call.”