NASCAR: Busch completes Texas sweep
FORT WORTH, Texas — Kyle Busch took advantage of a late caution to regain the lead and held on for the final 16 laps after the last restart Saturday night to win the Sprint Cup race at Texas, completing a NASCAR weekend sweep.
Busch followed Martin Truex Jr. for about 50 laps before a yellow flag for debris with 21 laps left. Busch took the lead off pit road during the caution and charged forward with a strong restart in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
It was the second time this season, and a NASCAR-record seventh time in his career, that Busch won Cup and Nationwide races in the same weekend. He was the polesitter Saturday night and won the Nationwide race Friday night on the 1ﾽ-mile, high-banked track.
Busch, who also won both races at Fontana last month, led 171 of 334 laps for his 26th career Cup victory.
“To be in Victory Lane in Texas, there’s nothing better,” Busch said. “If it wasn’t for my pit crew, which is the most awesome group ever ... Man, those guys were just awesome. They put together a heck of a stop to give us that lead. These cars are amazing to drive. They’re fast. They’re fun.”
Truex was trying to win for the first time since June 2007, but his winless streak reached 210 races when he finished a half-second behind Busch. Truex came into the race 25th in points with no laps led this season, but had his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in front for 142 laps at Texas.
“Debris huh????” Truex tweeted about the caution that cost him the lead.
“The race was over in the pits,” Truex said.
Busch has 111 career victories in NASCAR’s three top series — 26 in Sprint Cup, 55 in Nationwide and 30 in Camping World Truck.
His weekend sweep in California last month was overshadowed by the last-lap crash in the Cup race between former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano that left Hamlin with a fractured vertebra in his lower back.
Logano barely made the start of the race after prerace inspections turned up problems. He started at the back of the field, but worked back to a fifth-place finish. Jimmie Johnson maintained his series points lead by finishing sixth, ahead of Aric Almirola.
NASCAR confiscated the original rear-end housing parts from Logano’s No. 22 Ford and the No. 2 of Penkse Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion. NASCAR officials said the situation will be evaluated further next week, when decisions about any penalties could be made.
Logano gave up his starting spot of 18th after being late to the starting grid while having to get additional inspections. Keselowski got on pit road in time and started 16th, and finished ninth.
In keeping with a long tradition for the winner at Texas, Busch received a cowboy hat and got to fire trophy six-shooters loaded with blanks in Victory Lane.
The title sponsor of the race was the National Rifle Association, which came at a time when the U.S. Senate weighs legislation intended to reduce gun violence in the wake of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A senator from Connecticut requested that the Fox network not broadcast the race.
Busch didn’t get a rifle or shotgun for his qualifying run Friday like the other fastest Cup qualifiers had gotten since 2005. But track president Eddie Gossage said Saturday that was because there wasn’t a sponsor for that award this year, and not any reason other than that.
Carl Edwards, a three-time winner at Texas who had his seatbelt come loose during the race, finished third ahead of Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle.
Brian Vickers, filling in for Hamlin in the No. 11 Gibbs car, finished eighth. Hamlin was at the track this weekend and said he feel good, though he will miss at least another race, maybe more.
A part-time Cup driver for Waltrip’s team, Vickers had five top-10 finishes in eight races last year. Vickers is a full-time Nationwide driver for Gibbs
This was the 25th Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, which opened in 1997 and started hosting two races a year in 2005. It also was the first night race this season, and the first for NASCAR’s new Cup cars.
Kurt Busch started on the front row next to his brother, but finished 37th and 18 laps off the lead.