After swapping the lead back and forth with Joey Logano throughout the day, Kyle Busch would lead the final 13 laps en route to scoring the victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. It marks the 70th victory of Busch’s career and his seventh victory of the season. More importantly, though, it marks the 100th career victory for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series.
“It’s obviously a special moment for all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. They have worked hard to get this many wins and get these wins,” Busch commented in victory lane. “I’m just glad to be a small part of the effort. It’s a blast to drive these cars.”
For Gibbs, Busch’s victory gives him his ninth victory of the 2014 season as Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. also scored a win apiece this season.
“Just proud of Kyle, all these guys and their pit stops,” Coach Joe Gibbs said. “We love this series and love being in it. We took us five years to get one, so we really appreciate this. The Lord has blessed us with a great group of guys to do this.”
Joey Logano would finish second to extend the gap between the No. 22 Penske Ford and the No. 54 Gibbs Toyota in the Nationwide Series Owner’s Standings despite sliding through his pit stall mid-race. It marks his ninth top-10 finish of the 2014 season.
“I was going for pit stall one, but Nationwide pit stall one is actually pit stall two so I just missed it there,” Logano commented. “At least I redeemed myself there. We were fast on the long run, good enough to pass him – but then I got loose and along he came. He was able to gap us a little bit, and made that green flag pit stop able to keep the advantage.”
Ryan Blaney would finish third as he looks toward the full schedule in 2014, followed by Chase Elliott and Matt Kenseth. Elliott now holds a 48-point lead over Regan Smith in the driver’s championship standings with two races remaining. If the 18-year-old can finish in front of Smith at Phoenix International Speedway, he will clinch the championship in his rookie season.
“Just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks,” Elliott said. “When we started out today, we really, really struggled. From the start to the finish, this is probably the best performance that we have had together working as a race team. So big thanks to NAPA, the Nationwide Series and Chevrolet; everyone that makes this possible. We want to get another win before the end of the year so hopefully we can do that at Phoenix.”
Brian Scott finished sixth, followed by Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler and Dakoda Armstrong. Sadler was credited with a ninth place finish, but did not run the full event as he got out of the car under the first caution at lap eight when J.J. Yeley got in the wall due to feeling nauseous and feeling stomach pains. Bowyer qualified the No. 11 car, and would climb behind the wheel under the first caution.
“You never want to get in, especially for someone like Elliott; hate to see him sick like this,” Bowyer said. “The OneMain Financial Toyota was really fast out there. Just got loose out there late in the race.”
Smith would bounce back to finish 11th despite having to make an unscheduled pit stop mid-race due to a loose wheel. Kyle Larson finished 12th despite having to start at the rear of the field due to missing qualifying as a result of failing to get through technical inspection due to rear camber issues. Chris Buescher finished 13th, followed by Dylan Kwasniewski and Ty Dillon.
Championship contender Trevor Bayne did not have the day that he was looking for as he finished 36th after blowing a right front tire and hitting the wall, causing the car to catch fire.
“I’m guessing a tire went down,” Bayne said afterwards. “I haven’t seen anything to know. I don’t know what to do as this was the best Nationwide Series car that we had. it was hauling the mail today, had a lot of speed. We definitely had the car to win but it wasn’t our day today, unfortunately.
“There was no warning. I just wonder why it caught fire, whether due to contact with the wall or blown oil line before. It felt like a tire the whole time. It never happens when you’re running 20th and struggling along; it always happens when you’re running well. I can’t thank my guys for working hard and giving me a good car.”
Team owner Jack Roush said that based on looking over the tire after the wreck, it looked as though the tire “lost its air due to something being run over on the track.” Roush also added that they were “still inconclusive” though as they “haven’t figured out what damage on the tire is from the wreck versus the tire blowing out.”