Kyle Busch celebrated his 300th-career NASCAR Sprint Cup start in winning fashion on Saturday night, taking the checkered flag in the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch dominated the race, leading 170 of the 334 laps that made up the event en route to his 26th-career win.
“Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys gave me a great race car,” Busch said. “We ran up front all race long.”
Martin Truex Jr. had to settle for second after Busch beat him off pit road for the lead during the seventh and final caution of the race that came out with 21 laps to go. It was Truex’s sixth runner-up finish since he last went to victory lane at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in 2007.
“I’m getting tired of finishing second,” Truex said. “Man, this is getting old.”
Busch started on the pole, with his brother Kurt Busch alongside in second. But when the green flag waved, Kurt Busch dropped a few positions and was quickly replaced in second by Truex. Kyle Busch and Truex ran first and second for much of the race.
But Truex wasn’t in second all of that time, leading several laps, himself. He got out in front of Busch to lead for the first time following a caution that came out on lap 36. Truex led about 40 laps before Busch retook the top spot. Busch then drove out to a lead of nearly three seconds before another caution came out on lap 149.
Truex then lost second to Jeff Gordon on pit road. On lap 189, Gordon increased his position by taking the lead from Busch. Gordon’s lead was short-lived, though. During a cycle of green-flag pit stops around the 200 lap mark, Gordon lost the lead to Truex and second to Busch. A few laps later, Gordon moved back up to second, but as Truex continued to lead, Busch reclaimed second on a restart following the next caution that came out with 112 laps to go.
Truex continued to run up front and looked to be on his way to his first win in nearly six years until the yellow flag waved for the seventh and final time with 21 laps to go. Truex lost the top spot to Busch on pit road and restarted second.
“It happened a few times to us last year,” Truex said of losing the late-race lead on pit road. “The race was over when we lost the lead in the pits.”
Busch led the rest of the way, with Truex in second.
Carl Edwards finished third after a race that saw him encounter problems with his engine and a loose seatbelt.
“Third-place is like a win tonight,” Edwards said.
Greg Biffle was fourth, and Joey Logano finished fifth after starting in the back because his car didn’t get through pre-race inspection in time to be on the starting grid when the field rolled off of pit road for the pace laps prior to the green flag.
Jimmie Johnson was sixth, Aric Almirola seventh, and Brian Vickers finished eighth in his first race behind the wheel of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11. Brad Keselowski finished ninth, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR