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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