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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Will Power says IndyCar field toughest in world: ‘F1’s a joke as far as competition’


DETROIT – With the 2023 Formula One season turning into a Red Bull runaway, Will Power believes the NTT IndyCar Series deserves respect as the world’s most difficult single-seater racing series.

“It’s so tough, an amazing field, the toughest field in the world, and people need to know it, especially compared to Formula One,” the defending IndyCar champion told NBC Sports during a media luncheon a few days ahead of Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. “Formula One’s a joke as far as competition, but not as far as drivers. They have amazing drivers. And I feel sorry for them that they don’t get to experience the satisfaction we do with our racing because that is the top level of open-wheel motorsport.

“I think Formula One would be so much better if they had a formula like IndyCar. I love the technology and the manufacturer side of it. I think that’s awesome. But from a spectator watching, man, how cool would it be if everyone had a Red Bull (car)?”

INDYCAR IN DETROITEntry list, schedule, TV info for this weekend

It probably would look a lot different than this season, which has been dominated by two-time defending F1 champion Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman won Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix from the pole position by 24 seconds over seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. It’s the fifth victory in seven races for Verstappen, whose 40 career wins are one shy of tying late three-time champion Aryton Senna.

Along with being a virtual lock to tie Senna’s mark for titles, Verstappen is poised to break his own record for single-season victories (15) that he set last year.

“You simply know Max is going to win every race if something doesn’t go wrong,” Power said. “Imagine being a guy coming out as a rookie, and you probably could win a race. It would be really cool to see. But you know that would never happen with the politics over there.”

Verstappen’s F1 dominance has been a stark contrast to IndyCar, where Josef Newgarden just became the first repeat winner through six races this season with his Indy 500 victory.

Team Penske (with Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), Chip Ganassi Racing (with Palou and Marcus Ericsson) and Andretti Autosport (with Kyle Kirkwood) each have visited victory lane in 2023. Arrow McLaren (which has past winners Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist) is certain to join them at some point.

Meanwhile, Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez (two wins) have won every F1 race this season with the two Red Bull cars combining to lead more than 95% of the laps.

The primary differences are in the rulesets for each series.

While F1 teams virtually have complete autonomy to build their high-tech cars from scratch, IndyCar has what is known as a spec series in which the cars have a large degree of standardization.

IndyCar teams all use the Dallara DW12 chassis, which is in its 12th season. The development of the car largely has been maximized, helping put a greater emphasis on driver skill as a differentiator (as well as other human resources such as whip-smart strategists and engineers).

Alex Palou, who will start from the pole position at Detroit, harbors F1 aspirations as a McLaren test driver, but the Spaniard prefers IndyCar for competitiveness because talent can be such a determinant in results.

“Racing-wise, that’s the best you can get,” Palou said a few days before winning the pole for the 107th Indy 500 last month. “That’s pure racing, having chances to win each weekend.”

Of course, F1 is the world’s most popular series, and the 2021 IndyCar champion believes its appeal doesn’t necessarily stem from being competitive.

Though the ’21 championship battle between Hamilton and Verstappen was epic, F1 has grown its audience in recent years with the help of the “Drive To Survive” docuseries on Netflix that has showcased their stars’ personalities along with the cutthroat decisions of its team principals (IndyCar started its own docuseries this year).

“I don’t think the beauty of F1 is the race itself,” Palou said. “I’d say the beauty is more the development that they have and everything around the races, and that they go different places. But when we talk about pure spectacle, you cannot get better than (IndyCar).

“You can feel it as a driver here when you first come and jump in a car. When I was in Dale Coyne (Racing), we got a podium my rookie year. It wasn’t the best team, but we were able to achieve one of the best cars at Road America (where he finished third in 2020). It’s not that I was driving a slow car. I was driving a really fast car. I think we can see that across all the teams and the drivers.”

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who will start second at Detroit, is in his third season of IndyCar after winning three championships in Supercars.

The New Zealander said recently that IndyCar has been “the most enjoyment I’ve ever had in my career. I had a lot of fun in Supercars, but there were still things like different uprights, engines, all that stuff. (IndyCar) is spec. Really the only things you can change are dampers and the engine differences between Honda and Chevy.

“I have a blast,” McLaughlin said. “Trying to extract pace and winning in this series is better than I’ve ever felt ever. I’m surprised by how satisfied it feels to win an IndyCar race. It’s better than how it ever has felt in my career. I’ve always liked winning, but it’s so satisfying to win here. That’s why it’s so cool. There are no bad drivers. You have to have a perfect day.”

Qualifying might be the best example of the series’ competitiveness tightness. The spread for the Fast Six final round of qualifying on Detroit’s new nine-turn, 1.645-mile downtown layout was nearly eight 10ths of a second – which qualifies as an eternity these days.

Last month, the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course produced a spread of 0.2971 seconds from first to sixth – the fourth-closest Fast Six in IndyCar history since the format was adopted in 2008. Three of the seven closest Fast Six fields have happened this season (with the Grand Prix of Long Beach ranking sixth and the Alabama Grand Prix in seventh).

While the technical ingenuity and innovation might be limited when compared to F1, there’s no arguing that more IndyCar drivers and teams have a chance to win.

“The parity’s great, and no one has an advantage, basically,” Power said. “The two engine manufacturers (Honda and Chevrolet) are always flipping back and forth as they develop, but we’re talking like tenths of a second over a lap. There’s not a bad driver in the field, and there are 20 people all capable of being in the Fast Six every week. Maybe more. It’s incredibly competitive. There isn’t a more competitive series in the world. I’m sure of that.

“If you want the ultimate driver’s series, this is it I’m from a big team that would benefit massively from opening the rules up, but I don’t think (IndyCar officials) should. I think this should always be about the team and driver getting the most out of a piece of equipment that everyone has a chance to do so. That’s the ultimate driver series. Who wants to win a championship when you’re just given the best car? It’s just ridiculous.”

Power believes the talented Verstappen still would be the F1 champion if the equipment were spec, but he also thinks there would be more challengers.

“There’s got to be a bunch of those guys that must just be frustrated,” Power said. “Think about Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Lando Norris, (Fernando) Alonso. Those are some great drivers that don’t get a chance to even win. They’re just extracting the most out of the piece of equipment they have.

“All I can say is if everyone had a Red Bull car, there’s no way that Max would win every race. There are so many guys who would be winning races. It’d just be similar to (IndyCar) and different every week, which it should be that way for the top level of the sport.”