‘Rowdy’ breaks through to victory in Texas

by Tucker White On Sun, Apr. 08, 2018

Photo Credit: Don Dunn/Speedwaymedia.com

Out of his car and flag in hand, Kyle Busch performed his trademark bow to a mixed reaction of cheers and jeers from the fans in attendance at Texas Motor Speedway. After weeks of coming up short, despite dominant performance after dominant performance and weeks of frustration mounting, he was back in victory lane.

“We were probably just a tick faster, overall, but I just to make sure to do everything I could to hit all my marks and everything,” Busch said. “To focus on making sure that I did the right things to block his air a little bit.

“This has been a trying couple of months, I guess. After Daytona, we’ve just been on a roll of finishing really good. Been 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 the field back to green for the final time with 23 laps to go. After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. bogged down the field on the restart, he and Kevin Harvick pulled away from the field to settle the race between themselves. The closest Harvick could get, however, was within three-tenths of a second.

“We did overcome a lot. That was unfortunate,” Harvick said after finishing runner-up. “We had a pathetic day on pit road, two days on pit road because of pit guns. When you have a pit gun problem like we have multiple times and been able to overcome it and then today we couldn’t overcome it. Time after time you can’t get the lug nuts tight because the pit guns don’t work.

“Kyle’s car was good enough to where he could get out there and run pretty good in clean air. It took us the whole run to be able to get everything back together and do everything we needed to do to make up a position. We weren’t as good behind him as we were in front of him. His car would run fast enough. There is only so much you can make up.”

Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney rounded out the Top-five.

Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr., Clint Bowyer and William Byron rounded out the Top-10.

RACE SUMMARY

Kurt Busch led the field to the green flag at 2:13 p.m. Kevin Harvick powered ahead through Turn 2 to take the top spot and led the first lap. Busch, meanwhile, got loose in Turn 3 and fell back to seventh. Martin Truex Jr. pitted a bit shy of the end of the estimated fuel window on Lap 41. This forced the rest of the leaders to pit as well. Harvick pitted from the lead on Lap 44, handing it to Denny Hamlin. Hoping to catch a caution, he finally pitted on Lap 56 and the lead cycled back to Harvick.

Hamlin was hit with a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit entry.

The first stage ended with a caution five laps shy of the conclusion when second-place Martin Truex Jr. suffered a right-front tire blowout and veered up into the Turn 4 wall. As a result, Harvick won the first stage.

Kyle Busch beat Harvick off pit road and led the field back to green on Lap 91. Harvick took advantage of Busch getting loose in Turn 1 to get to his inside and retake the lead on Lap 116.

Kyle Larson, who worked his way back into the Top-10 after starting the day from the tail-end of the field for failing pre-race inspection too many times, suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 126.

A lug nut got caught in Harvick’s jack, costing him the lead. Kurt Busch exited first and led the field back to green on Lap 135. Adding insult to injury for Harvick, he made an unscheduled not long after the restart for a loose wheel, as did Ryan Blaney. With four laps remaining in the second stage, the Kyle swapped the top spot with his brother exiting Turn 2 and won the stage.

Erik Jones exited pit road first and led the field to green on Lap 178. Busch got loose going into Turn 1. Heading down the backstretch, he backed up into the path of Aric Almirola, who checked up and got Hamlin loose, triggering a multi-car wreck. Cleanup required 11 minutes under red flag.

The race restarted on Lap 184. A round of green flag stops commenced with 103 laps to go. Jones pitted the following lap, Busch pitted with 101 to go and the lead went to William Byron.

Following a caution for Paul Menard hitting the wall in Turn 1, Kyle Busch beat Jones entering Turn 1 and retook the lead with 94 to go.

Everyone hit pit road for their final round of pit stops with 45 to go. Race leader Kyle Busch did so with 44 to go. Ryan Newman blew a right-front tire and slammed the outside wall on the frontstretch, bringing out the caution with 30 to go. Chase Elliott pitted from the lead and it cycled back to Kyle Busch.

He led the field back to green with 23 to go. After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. bogged down the field on the restart, Busch and Harvick pulled away from the field to settle the race between themselves.

NUTS & BOLTS

The race lasted three hours, 32 minutes and seven seconds, at an average speed of 141.714 mph. There were 16 lead changes among eight different drivers and eight cautions for 48 laps.

Kyle Busch leaves with a 38-point lead over Joey Logano.

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