Kyle Busch roars back to win Truck race at Texas; Matt Crafton gets closer to clinching championship


While it may have looked questionable with five laps remaining in regulation time, Kyle Busch was not to be denied, rallying in impressive fashion to win Friday’s Winstar World Casino and Resort 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch, who led a race-high 80 laps in the extended 152-lap race, earned his seventh win of the year in a truck, the 42nd truck win of his career and a Truck Series record-tying 12th win of the season for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

And in so doing, Busch helped Toyota win its seventh Manufacturer’s Championship in 11 seasons.

“It’s pretty awesome to be back in Victory Lane,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “Our trucks are just fast every week.”

After pitting for tires on the next-to-last caution of the race, Busch fell from first to ninth on the restart with five laps remaining in regulation time.

It took him just two laps to go from ninth to second, only to have yet another caution come out with three laps left.

When the last restart began, Busch got past German Quiroga and set sail for the win in what would be three extra laps in the 152-lap green-white-checker outcome.

“I was (concerned),” Busch said of going from ninth to second on the next-to-last restart. “I thought the 17 (Timothy Peters) was in the cat bird seat. I figured he had the perfect strategy, two tires and going to be on the outside, get through those guys and out front. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to him.

“But I got there and then the caution came out and I got side-by-side for the restart with the 77 (German Quiroga) and just sort of set sail from there. I just held it wide open the last two laps and the truck was pretty fast.”

Still searching for his first career Truck Series win, Quiroga on old tires spun and hit the wall on the final lap, going from a likely runner-up showing to a disappointing 17th-place finish.

Jeb Burton picked up where Quiroga left off and finished second, but it was not without incident.

Burton clipped teammate Johnny Sauter, sending Sauter spinning to bring out the second-to-last caution on Lap 145, and Sauter was none too happy after the race, having to be restrained from getting to Burton.

“He saw me sideways and barely touched him,” Burton said of Sauter. “I didn’t mean to touch him. That’s the last thing I want to do, is wreck a teammate.

“He was trying to dodge the 23 (Max Gresham), I was right there and something happened fast. He knows damn well I don’t race like that and that’s the last thing I want to do.”

Series leader Matt Crafton had trouble with his truck early in the race but managed to get back on pace and ultimately finished fifth.

Although he wanted to challenge Busch for the lead at the end, Crafton was hemmed in and did the smart thing by backing off. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt him in the point standings.

“We got four wide on the last restart, and one of the trucks that was below decided to drive me up into the fence,” Crafton said. “It was either wreck and lose a bunch of points and do something stupid. I just had to lift.

“That would have cost us a bunch of points, but just as I thought my stuff was coming to me, I thought I could run him down. … I definitely thought I could catch him if nothing else, but it’s a shame.”

Still, with two races remaining – Phoenix next week and the season finale at Homestead in two weeks – Crafton appears headed for the championship.

Crafton opened up a 24-point lead on second-ranked Ryan Blaney, while Darrell Wallace Jr. remains in third, but falls to 44 points back.

Sauter remains in fourth, 53 points back, while Peters is 79 points back in fifth place.

With 41 laps to go, Wallace saw both his motor and potentially his championship hopes go up in smoke as the motor in Wallace’s Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Toyota Tundra blew up.

At the time his motor expired, Wallace – who won last Sunday at Martinsville – had led the most laps (51) up to that point in the race.

Seeing Wallace’s issue in his rearview mirror, Busch quickly shut off the motor in his truck to try and save fuel.

That was a rather prudent move, as the explosion was so massive that it leaked oil and fluids all over the race track, bringing out a red flag that stopped the race for a little over 10 minutes while cleanup took place.

All told, including the red flag period, the race was under caution for nine laps around the 1.5-mile high-speed racetrack.

“I really, really feel bad for Bubba,” Busch said. “He was doing everything right tonight and was really fast. It’s a shame to see the motor let go.”

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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”