Kyle Busch wins NNS event at Texas, goes for only second 3-race weekend sweep in NASCAR history

4 Comments

It’s two down, one to go this weekend for Kyle Busch.

The younger Busch brother won his second straight race of the weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, capturing Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

In so doing, he earned the 100th career Nationwide Series victory for Joe Gibbs Racing, as well as it being the 58th NNS career win for JGR behind the wheel for Busch, and his 70th overall NNS triumph.

“I can’t believe it,” team owner Joe Gibbs told ESPN. “I’m just real proud of Kyle. We got off to a rough start in this (Nationwide Series), it took us almost five years to win a race. So we really appreciate this.

“If (Busch) see’s anything in front of him, he’s after it. Sometimes we don’t give him a good enough car, but he’s still after it. … It’s a big deal for us.”

Coupled with Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race, Busch goes for a weekend sweep in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup race.

Busch is the first – and only driver to date in NASCAR annals – to sweep all three races in a weekend, having done so at Bristol in 2010.

“It’s obviously a special moment for all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch told ESPN in Victory Lane. “Everybody in the body shop, chassis shop and engine shop, they’ve worked hard for a long time to get this many wins and have done a great job.

“I’m just glad to be a part of the effort, a small part of the effort. It’s good to be back on top here at Texas and getting another win here.”

Busch led 116 of the event’s 200 laps.

Joey Logano gave Busch all he could handle, leading 59 laps himself, but couldn’t catch Busch at the end and settled for the runner-up finish.

“Kyle was fast there in the long run,” Logano said. “My car was good enough to pass him every time, but then I got loose and he’d come along. Long run speed wasn’t in our game there.

“We needed another caution to make it more interesting for the fans and to have a little more fun.”

Ryan Blaney finished third, followed by NNS points leader Chase Elliott in fourth and Matt Kenseth was fifth.

Sixth through 10th were Brian Scott, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler (although Clint Bowyer drove most of the race when Sadler took ill) and Dakoda Armstrong.

Regan Smith was 11th, followed by Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Dylan Kwasniewski, Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Mike Bliss, Landon Cassill and JJ Yeley.

While leading on Lap 50, Trevor Bayne suffered a rather frightening incident when what appeared to be a right rear tire suddenly went down, sending him into the wall.

The rear of his car burst into heavy flame, but Bayne was able to work his car down to the bottom of the track and exited his Ford.

“It makes you want to laugh or cry,” Bayne told ESPN. “I don’t know which one to do – probably not laugh because this is the best Nationwide car I’ve ever had.

“Our No. 6 was just hauling the mail today. It had a lot of speed all weekend long, It’s disheartening. These guys deserve it.

“There was no warning. I just wonder why it caught fire so fast, whether that was something after the impact or sometimes that happens when the brake line or oil line comes off. The way that it went, it had to be a tire to me, the way it felt.”

Also, Elliott Sadler began the race, even though he failed to qualify earlier in the day due to some type of stomach illness.

According to ESPN, Sadler was sent to the infield medical care center during qualifying and received several bags of fluids for an apparent dehydration problem.

Sadler felt good enough to start the race, but got out of the car after just eight laps, replaced by Sprint Cup regular Clint Bowyer, who qualified the ride for Sadler, as well.

MORE: Elliott Sadler, reportedly suffering from stomach virus, will start today’s Nationwide race

Bowyer ultimately finished ninth in the race.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter