Kyle Busch riding momentum; wins at Texas, looks to Bristol to continue good fortune
Kyle Busch is riding into Bristol on a Texas-size wave of momentum. Busch outlasted Kevin Harvick to take the checkered flag and his first win of the 2018 season in the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Harvick battled back from being one lap down, charged to the front of the pack to challenge the Joe Gibbs Racing driver but ran out of time and laps in the race.
It was a partial victory for Harvick as bad luck hampered the Stewart-Haas Racing driver for the better part of the weekend and Sunday’s events could have cost him his second place finish in the race.
Harvick’s troubles could have been summed up in one word, lugnuts, as the bad luck came in the form of three pit-road penalties, a sluggish stop because of a jammed-up jack as a loose lug nut went airborne, jammed up the team’s jack in addition to an extra pit-road visit for a loose wheel.
Those factors could have been deciding factors in where Harvick might have finished on the day but for the Stewart-Haas Racing team, it was a matter of coming together and overcoming the obstacles.
Busch would lead 116 of the 334 laps to capture his first win of the 2018 season and the 44th win of his career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
For the rest of the field, it was a battle for survival as driver attrition put several contenders to the pits and DNF’s on the scoring sheet.
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jamie McMurray finished in third, with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones taking fourth. Penske Racing driver Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.
The day was not kind to 2017 series champion Martin Truex Jr. as the Furniture Row Racing driver crashed before the end of the first stage and finished in last place in the 37-car field.
Kyle Larson finished one place above Truex after a crash, finishing 36th and Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski were among seven Cup drivers snared big crash on lap 177 that brought out the red flag and stopped race action for eleven minutes.
Busch’s win sets the stage for the next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee with the green flag set to drop at 2 p.m. on the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
By Rod Mullins /Augusta Free Press