Kyle Busch had been what you would call a “regular” when it came to visiting victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway, but until Saturday night he had never made a visit after a Sprint Cup race. It was his first Cup win at Texas in 16 starts, but his overall record at the track has made him one of the more successful drivers that has ever started a NASCAR event on the mile-and-a-half oval.
Busch has won six of his last nine Nationwide starts and two of his last four Camping World Truck Series starts at Texas. His win in the Nationwide Series on Friday and his Cup win on Saturday was the seventh time in his career that he has swept both events at the same track in a weekend, which is a NASCAR record.
Martin Truex Jr. seemed to be in command of the NRA 500 on Saturday night and had put himself in a position to break a 210-race winless streak when one of NASCAR’s famous caution flags waved for debris on lap 318 of the 334 lap event. Mark Martin got into the outside wall of turn 4 to bring out the caution, but TV cameras had a hard time of finding any debris on the track that would warrant waving the yellow flag.
Truex Jr. had his Toyota on cruise control and it appeared he was on his way of breaking his winless streak that has now stretched to six years, but the caution flag threw the outcome of the race into the hands of the pit crews.
The new Gen-6 car has proved that it is so good in the lead that passing is very difficult and the driver that comes out in the lead after the last pit stop — especially if it is during a caution — is going to be tough to beat. That is exactly how it played out for Busch on the last restart as he had the number one pit stall, thanks to his recordbreaking pole run, and it was the perfect time for his pit crew to turn in a very quick 11.7 second stop.
Busch beat Truex Jr. off pit road by three car lengths, giving him the choice of lanes to restart the race. When the final green flag waved, Busch quickly jumped out in the lead on his way to beating Truex Jr. by half a second. The two drivers dominated the race as they combined to lead 313 laps.
This race might be remembered more for what happened off the track than for what we saw on the track. The story line of the night turned out to be the trouble that the Penske Racing cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were having in getting through inspection prior to the beginning of the race. NASCAR officials said that the rear-end housings of the cars were not in the spirit of the rules.
Both teams had to scramble to replace the rear ends, with Keselowski’s team making the changes in time for their car to make it to the starting grid on time. Logano’s team struggled in making the necessary changes as Logano was standing on pit road during the singing of the national anthem played while his car was still going through the inspection process.
Keselowski was able to keep his 16th starting position, but because his car was so late getting to the line Logano had to start the race from the back. The two drivers did keep their poise during the race and were able to turn what could have been a disaster of a night into a pretty good showing for Penske Racing. Keselowski finished ninth and Logano fifth, but now the two must wait to see if NASCAR will impose any penalties over the confiscated parts. The sanctioning body can impose fines, suspensions or take away points if it feels the rear ends actually broke the rules.
PIT NOTES: Denny Hamlin sat out his second race since being injured at California and he has dropped out of the top-20 in the driver’s points. That number is significant as he could still make the Chase if he can either post the most or second most wins of any driver outside of the top-10 and inside of the top-20. He is now 25th in points, 17 points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who sits in the 20th spot. He is expected to miss at least four more races that would make it extremely tough to get back into the top 20 at the end of the 26th race at Richmond in September.
Event: STP 400
Track: Kansas Speedway (1.5-
mile D-Shaped Oval, 15 degrees
of banking in the turns)
Date: April 21, 1 p.m.
Defending Champion: Denny