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Kyle Busch sweeps Texas

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, April 14, 2013

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Kyle Busch sweeps Texas weekend
Getty Images for NASCAR
The record book will say that Kyle Busch won the NRA 500 on Saturday night.

If truth be known, Busch started the process on Friday afternoon and applied the coup de grace with 20 laps left on Saturday evening.

Yes, Busch capped a perfect weekend when he took the checkered flag 0.508 seconds ahead of runner-up Martin Truex Jr. But Busch’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Texas, his second of the season and the 26th of his career started with a pole-winning run on Friday that afforded him the luxury of picking the No. 1 pit stall.

At the race’s crucial juncture, under the final caution for debris in Turn 4, Busch used a lightning-fast pit stop and the pit stall position closest to the exit from pit road to grab the top spot for the final restart. Truex restarted on the outside and struggled to maintain contact with the race winner.

Though he gained ground in the closing laps, Truex ran out of time.

During post-race inspection, Truex's No. 56 Toyota failed the height-stick test and was deemed too low in the front. The car will be taken to NASCAR's research-and-development center in Concord, N.C. for further examination.

Carl Edwards was third, followed by Greg Biffle and Joey Logano, who barely made the starting grid and rallied for an unexpected top five.

Busch, who won Friday night’s Nationwide Series race after claiming the pole, finished off the seventh Nationwide/Cup sweep of his career, a NASCAR record -- and all because of the final pit stop.

"It feels good -- oh, man," Busch exulted after climbing from his car. "(Crew chief) Dave Rogers and these guys gave me a great piece today. We ran up front all day long. But if it wasn’t for my pit crew, the most awesome group ever -- since 2008 we’ve been together, haven’t had any changeover -- man, those guys are just awesome.

"They pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put us up front, to give us that lead, and we were able to bring it home."

Busch led a race-high 171 laps to 142 for Truex, who was beyond disappointed with the second-place result.

"We started near the front and had a decent car at the beginning, but not great," Truex said. "We worked on it all night and got it to where it was the best car out there. The last caution came out, and we got beat out of the pits, and that was the race. It was pretty frustrating to run second again. I feel like we've been in this boat and this position a bunch of times.

"Nothing about it is much fun. At the same time, it was a good run for us. We had a great weekend. Had a good race car all weekend long, and we learned a lot about things we can use in the future. Just running second sucks, especially when you're that fast. So (I’m) a little bit frustrated right now."

Nor would Truex use Busch’s No. 1 pit stall as an excuse.

"We came in with the lead," Truex said. "I still feel like we should have been able to beat him out. I don't know what happened there, but it wasn't even close. I was three (car-lengths) behind, so it wasn't all pit position, it was other things on our end…

"It's so hard to get in position to win these races. It is so hard to make your car good enough to beat Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch and all these guys; and we had that tonight. We've got to get better at taking advantage of that. That's where we're missing, and that's what we need to work on. So that's why I'm upset. Second is a great accomplishment, but it's not what we're here for."

Truex streaked away from the field after a restart on Lap 229 and opened a lead of more than 2.5 seconds over Busch. That advantage grew to more than four seconds before a worn-out right front tire threatened Truex’s winning chances.

As Truex brought his No. 56 Toyota to pit road under green on Lap 280, however, David Gilliland turned Marcos Ambrose’s Ford on the backstretch to cause the sixth caution of the night. As the yellow flew, Jeff Burton ran into the back of Mark Martin’s Toyota and spun into the inside wall.

Since both Truex and Busch were already on pit road when NASCAR called the caution, they remained in the lead for a restart on Lap 291. Truex opened a lead once again before a Lap 314 caution for debris in Turn 4 slowed the field again and allowed the lead-lap cars to pit for four tires.

Busch won the race off pit road, and that proved decisive, as he sped away after a restart on Lap 319 and made a bridesmaid of Truex for the sixth time since his only Sprint Cup victory on June 4, 2007.

Trouble started early for the Penske Racing Fords of reigning series champion Brad Keselowski and Logano. NASCAR confiscated the rear-end housings of the cars, forcing the teams to make a change before the race.

Keselowski made it to the grid in time for the start, but Logano’s car was late presenting itself on pit road and had to start from the rear.

"It is just something that is not in the spirit of the rules," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton told the Sporting News in explaining the violation. If penalties are forthcoming, they will be announced next week.

Nevertheless, both drivers rallied from a lap to down to post top-10 finishes. Keselowski came home ninth and remained second in the Cup standings, nine points behind Johnson, who ran sixth on Saturday.

Q&A with Kyle Busch

How does it feel to finally win a Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway?
"That feels good.  Ah man, for Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller to be in victory lane in Texas -- nothing better than putting him right here.  Great race car.  Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys gave me a great piece today.  We ran up front all day long.  If it wasn't for my pit crew, who is the most awesome crew ever and since 2008 we've been together -- haven't had any change overs.  Man, those guys were awesome.  They pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put us up front and give us that lead and to be able to bring it home.  I thank M&M's and Toyota, of course, Monster Energy, Sprint -- without Sprint this wouldn't be a sport, so we appreciate them.  Of course the fans, we have to thank them also."

How important was it to win at Texas?
"It's good, really good.  We've had a good start to the season.  It feels amazing to keep this roll going.  It's so much fun to race with this group.  We had a talk over the winter, Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and I had a talk a few weeks ago and things have kind of jelled -- we've been doing really, really good.  I'm proud of this bunch and couldn't say enough about Joe Gibbs Racing.  Everybody back at the shop -- all the guys and gals -- these cars are amazing to drive, they're fast, they're fun."

What does it mean to win this race?
"This is awesome.  It's such an amazing feeling -- I'm jacked up.  Man, this is cool -- we're in victory lane in Texas finally in the Cup Series.  Man, if it wasn't for my pit crew.  We had a great race car and we worked really hard all weekend long on this car.  We had a great race car, but without that pit crew -- they're the best in the business and been the best in the business since I've been with them in 2008.  They know when it's crunch time."

What was your reaction to your team's 12-second pit stop?
"I was watching my mirror seeing if those guys were coming behind me.  It felt good, it felt like it was going to be a good stop.  They dropped the jack on the left side and I was like, 'Go, go' and I pulled out.  I was like, 'Oh, this is too sweet, man.' You give me the lead with just 20-something laps to go and it feels really good."

What were you thinking on the final restart?
"Just don't spin your tires too much, it doesn't matter if he's (Martin Truex Jr.) on your outside, just get a good run through (turns) one and two and hopefully you clear him off two.  That's all you can do.  If you didn't you'd just race him down into three and four.  (Martin) Truex put up a whale of a fight tonight.  What a race by him.  I feel bad for the guy, but on the same token you don't feel bad because you have to win.  This sport is all about winning.  I'm glad to be in victory lane here. Again, I appreciate the fans and all their support."

Results

Pos Driver Car # MFG Start Laps Laps Led Status
1 Kyle Busch 18 Toyota 1 334 171 Running
2 Martin Truex Jr 56 Toyota 5 334 142 Running
3 Carl Edwards 99 Ford 9 334 0 Running
4 Greg Biffle 16 Ford 35 334 0 Running
5 Joey Logano 22 Ford 18 334 1 Running
6 Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet 7 334 0 Running
7 Aric Almirola 43 Ford 3 334 0 Running
8 Brian Vickers 11 Toyota 15 334 0 Running
9 Brad Keselowski 2 Ford 16 334 0 Running
10 Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet 31 334 3 Running
11 Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet 14 334 0 Running
12 Matt Kenseth 20 Toyota 20 334 0 Running
13 Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet 29 334 0 Running
14 Mark Martin 55 Toyota 23 334 0 Running
15 Clint Bowyer 15 Toyota 26 334 0 Running
16 Jamie McMurray 1 Chevrolet 11 334 0 Running
17 Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet 19 334 0 Running
18 Trevor Bayne 21 Ford 22 334 0 Running
19 Marcos Ambrose 9 Ford 4 333 0 Running
20 Juan Pablo Montoya 42 Chevrolet 10 333 0 Running
21 Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet 13 333 0 Running
22 Travis Kvapil 93 Toyota 32 332 0 Running
23 Jeff Burton 31 Chevrolet 21 332 0 Running
24 David Reutimann 83 Toyota 38 332 0 Running
25 Dave Blaney 7 Chevrolet 28 332 0 Running
26 David Ragan 34 Ford 25 331 1 Running
27 David Stremme 30 Toyota 33 331 0 Running
28 Danica Patrick 10 Chevrolet 42 331 0 Running
29 Dale Earnhardt Jr 88 Chevrolet 6 330 0 Running
30 Josh Wise 35 Ford 40 330 0 Running
31 Casey Mears 13 Ford 24 330 0 Running
32 David Gilliland 38 Ford 27 329 1 Running
33 Austin Dillon 51 Chevrolet 12 326 0 Running
34 Landon Cassill 33 Chevrolet 39 326 0 Running
35 Joe Nemechek 87 Toyota 41 324 0 Running
36 Timmy Hill 32 Ford 43 322 0 Running
37 Kurt Busch 78 Chevrolet 2 316 0 Running
38 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet 8 306 15 Suspension
39 J.J. Yeley 36 Chevrolet 36 293 0 Rear Axle
40 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 17 Ford 17 290 0 Running
41 Mike Bliss 19 Toyota 34 140 0 Brakes
42 Bobby Labonte 47 Toyota 30 138 0 Engine
43 Michael McDowell 98 Ford 37 44 0 Overheating


Average Speed of Race Winner:  144.751 mph.
Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 27 Mins, 40 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.508 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  7 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes:  18 among 7 drivers.

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