NNS: Texas Two-Step; Kyle Busch Wins Nationwide Race, Looks for Weekend Triple on Sunday

Jacob Seelman Featured, NASCAR, West 0 Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas — Race report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images photo —

Another day, another dominating performance by Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Busch cycled back to the lead with fifteen laps remaining after a final round of green flag pit stops during Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway and drove away from series rival Joey Logano over the final laps, notching his series-leading seventh Nationwide victory of the 2014 season in stellar fashion, leading 116 of the race’s 200 laps en route to victory lane.

The win was Busch’s 70th career NNS victory, seventh in the series at Texas and his 11th win across all three series at the Fort Worth venue. The triumph was also team owner Joe Gibbs’ 100th career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, with Busch having scored 58 of those across the team’s tenure.

“It’s obviously a special moment for all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “They’ve worked hard for a long time to get this many wins and they’ve done a great job. I’m just proud to be a part of the effort, you know, a small part of the effort.”

“It’s certainly a blast to drive these cars; I can’t say enough about Monster Energy and Adam Stevens, Jason Ratcliff, Dave Rogers, all the crew chiefs that I’ve been able to win with in the Nationwide Series at Joe Gibbs Racing and you know, the different cars we’ve won in. It just goes to show that everything’s always changing and it’s good to be back on top here at Texas.”

Busch will now look for the weekend trifecta during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, and if he’s able to complete the sweep, it would be the second time he’s won all three NASCAR national series events at the same race track on the same weekend following his initial tripleheader sweep at Bristol in August of 2010.

Logano came up second and maintained the advantage for Team Penske in the NNS owner’s standings after leading 59 laps on the afternoon and exchanging the lead between himself and Busch a half dozen times over the course of the day, but said he didn’t have enough down the stretch.

“We had a good Discount Tire Ford,” Logano said. “The long run is where we got beat and that is when they got by us there right before that last pit stop and was able to put some ground on us and able to hold it that last run. We just have to figure out how to get the long run going. We were good up to 15 or 20 laps but then got so loose you couldn’t hang onto it and he drove away. We will have to look into that a little bit.”

Logano’s Penske teammate Ryan Blaney came home third, with championship leader Chase Elliott finishing fourth and extending his lead over Regan Smith to 48 points with two races remaining.

If Elliott maintains or extends his 48-point margin next week at Phoenix, he will clinch the series title and become both the first rookie titlist and the youngest champion in NASCAR national series history.

Matt Kenseth completed the top five after leading during the first half of the race. Kenseth was followed by Brian Scott, Austin Dillon and four-time season winner Kevin Harvick. Clint Bowyer finished ninth after relieving an ill Elliott Sadler during the first caution of the day at lap 7 for J.J. Yeley’s crash, and Dakoda Armstrong used an alternate pit strategy to round out the top ten.

Smith finished eleventh after pitting at lap 185, and Kyle Larson finished twelfth after starting the day from the rear of the field when he never made it through pre-qualifying inspection to take a lap in the first session of qualifying this morning.

Tire issues were the story of the day, the most notable of which being Trevor Bayne, who took the lead at lap 34 from Logano and appeared to have a car capable of winning before he blew a tire going into turn one on lap 49 and pounded the outside wall. The car burst into flames before coming to rest at the exit of pit road.

Bayne was okay, but the 2011 Daytona 500 champion was visibly disappointed after having a car he thought could contend for the victory.

“I guess I had a tire go down, but I haven’t seen anything to know,” said Bayne. “The way the it caught fire, maybe a brake line, I’m not sure. It makes you either want to cry or laugh. I don’t which to do. Probably not laugh, because this is the best Nationwide Insurance car I’ve ever had. Our No. 6 was just hauling the mail today. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not like it drove great, it just had a lot of speed all weekend long.”

“I thought we had a good shot to win the race,” he continued. “These guys deserve to win. Advocare deserves to win. I feel like I do at some point, but guess God has a plan for my life and it wasn’t to win today, unfortunately.”

Bayne said there was no warning the car had a problem before his Ford jumped right and the incident occurred.

“There was no warning,” he said. “I just wonder why it caught fire so fast, whether that was something after the impact or sometimes that happens if a brake line comes off or an oil line, I hadn’t even thought about that. The way that it went, it had to be a tire to me, the way that it felt.”

The race’s other serious crash came with 61 laps to go, when the left-rear housing sheared the wheel off the No. 39 of Ryan Sieg’s car and sent him around in turn two, collecting the Ford of Corey Lajoie in the aftermath.

In all, the event featured 13 lead changes between five different drivers and was slowed by four cautions for 27 yellow-flag laps.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series now heads to Phoenix International Raceway next week for the DAV 200, race 32 of 33 for NASCAR’s second-tier series. Kyle Busch has won the last three Nationwide events at the 1-mile desert oval, and five of the last nine events there dating back to 2010.

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