Kyle Busch finally did it. After finishing second or third in the last four races, it was Busch’s turn to celebrate after winning Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Here’s how it all went down Sunday:
Thanks to a qualifying session shortened to one round on Friday due to lightening, Kurt Busch led the field to the green. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin filled out the rest of the top five.
Busch was on the outside, Harvick on the inside; they were side by side until turn 3 when Bush washed up and lost five spots ending up in sixth as Harvick took the lead.
The first caution came out on lap 2 when the field exiting turn 4 Alex Bowman clipped the apron and spun; Paul Menard, Austin Dillon and Daniel Suarez were all swept up. Menard and Suarez had the heaviest damage and headed to pit road. Bowman and Dillon also pitted.
The green came back out to start lap 8.
Bowyer in second lipped up out of the groove and fell back to fifth.
By lap 11 the top five: Harvick, Blaney, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Bowyer. The lead for Harvick was soon up to a second.
Blaney was slowly reeling in Harvick by lap 26.
Kurt Busch took fifth from Bowyer on lap 29.
By lap 34, Harvick had stretched his lead out to 2.7 seconds.
Martin Truex Jr. made a pit stop on lap 41 trying to split the stage. Several others deeper in the pack followed.
Harvick pitted on lap 45. Blaney also pitted but was penalized for an uncontrolled tire after one was left outside the pit box.
Jimmie Johnson also had to come back in reporting a vibration.
Bowman took his car to the garage on lap 55.
Hamlin stayed out and finally pitted on lap 56.
After the stops the top five: Harvick, Truex, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano. Harvick had a seven second lead.
Hamlin was penalized for speeding on pit road after his stop.
The lead was 10 seconds for Harvick by lap 69.
Truex hit the frontstretch wall hard on lap 80 after losing a right front tire in turn 4 the second caution of the day came out.
Stage 1 ended under caution. The top 10: Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Logano, Kyle Larson, Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones.
The leaders pitted under the third caution of the day on lap 86.
Kyle Busch won the race off pit road followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch, Logano, Larson and Bowyer.
Green came out to start Stage 2 on lap 90. Kyle Busch restarted on the outside and was able to shoot to the lead. Larson tried to follow into second, but lost momentum, Harvick took second. Larson fell into fourth ahead of Kurt Busch, Logano took fifth.
Logano took fourth on lap 95.
Harvick had caught Kyle Busch by lap 104 and was looking for the lead.
Harvick retook the lead on lap 117. He was soon stretching out his lead.
After being forced to start at the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection three times Sunday morning and seeing his car chief ejected, Larson had fought his way to fourth; lost a right front tire entering turn 1 on lap 126 and hit the wall hard. The fourth caution of the day came out.
The leaders pitted. Kurt Busch was out first followed by brother Kyle, Logano Erik Jones and Blaney. During his stop, the crew had a lug nut get stuck in the jack; he came back out 9th.
Green came out to start lap 134. Kurt had the lead by turn 1, Kyle fell in behind. Logano and Jones were side by side behind. Logano came out with third, Blaney took fourth. Jones took fifth from Elliott.
Harvick had to re-pit with a loose wheel on lap 137; he lost a lap and came back out 22nd.
Blaney then reported a loose wheel and pitted on lap 140. Jones moved to fourth, Elliott to fifth. Blaney came out a lap down in 21st.
Bowyer took fifth from Elliott on lap 145.
Kyle was looking for the lead from his brother on lap 165; the two were side by side for a couple of laps with Kyle getting the lead on lap 167, three before the end of the stage.
The top 10 Stage 2: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Logano, Jones, Bowyer, Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr., Hamlin and Aric Almirola.
There were 13 cars on the lead lap.
The leaders pitted.
Jones was out first followed by Kyle then Kurt Busch, Elliott and Bowyer.
Green came out to start lap 177; Jones had the lead by Turn 1. Kyle Busch got loose and checked up; Hamlin behind spun as Almirola slowed and got into him; the crash swept up several cars including Keselowski, Johnson, Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, and David Ragan. Most of those involved in the crash, a total of seven, were done for the day.
NASCAR put out the red flag. After stopping, Harvick reported another possible loose wheel.
The red flag was lifted after 11 minutes.
Green came out to start lap 184; Jones took the lead, Kurt Busch fell into second. Elliott, Logano and Bowyer followed. There were 11 cars on the lead lap.
Elliott reported a vibration and pitted on lap 214. The top 5: Jones, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Logano, and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch took fourth on lap 225.
Harvick and Bubba Wallace were fighting or the lucky dog spot, 11th with Harvick emerging with the spot by lap 108. Elliott with fresher tires and also a lap down was soon pressuring Harvick to be the first car one lap down.
Kyle Busch and Logano pitted under green on lap 230. Others in the lead pack followed. Jones pitted on lap 231; Kurt Busch followed a lap later.
While green flag stops were finishing up, the caution came out on lap 235 for Paul Menard who lost a tire and hit the wall. Thanks to the pitting cars, Harvick found himself in second with the yellow waved; Elliott was third followed by Kyle and Kurt Busch.
Harvick and Elliott were the only cars among the leaders to pit. During the stop, one of Harvick’s crewman fell over the wall and his team was penalized for too many men over the wall. Harvick restarted 12th.
Green came out to start lap 240; Kyle Busch was able to get under Jones to take the lead. Kurt Busch, Logano and Bowyer followed.
Kasey Kahne and Bayne were racing for the free pass spot and both spun on lap 249 exiting turn 4; caution six flew. Both made no contact and were able to continue.
It was a mix of those pitting; the first four stayed out.
Green came out to start lap 255; Jones and Kurt Busch both got loose exiting turn 2; Kyle Busch meanwhile took the lead; McMurray snatched second, Jones recovered for third, Logano and Elliott followed. Kurt Busch settled into sixth.
Harvick took fifth on lap 268; Kurt Busch followed. Harvick took fourth two laps later; he took third on lap 276; second from McMurray and lap later. He was 3.4 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch.
And that lead was shrinking.
It was under 2 seconds by lap 288.
Jones pitted on lap 289. McMurray followed.
Leader Kyle Busch pitted on lap 290; Harvick followed.
Busch won the race off pit road.
Stenhouse, Ryan Newman and Wallace stayed out hoping for a caution.
Unfortunately, Newman became the caution when he lost a right front tire on the frontstretch and hit the wall on lap 304. Caution 9 came out. Wallace and Stenhouse pitted, Kyle Busch and Harvick stayed out. They were the only cars on the lead lap.
The top five for the restart to start lap 311: Kyle Busch, Harvick, Stenhouse, Wallace and McMurray. Stenhouse reported he had no brakes.
Kyle Busch and Harvick broke free, Wallace, McMurray and Jones had the rest of the top five.
Jones took fifth on lap 313; Blaney followed.
The gap between the top two was .2 of a second.
There were 11 cars on the lead lap with 19 laps to go.
Stenhouse pitted on lap 316.
With 10 to go the separation was a half a second. Third place McMurray was 5 seconds back.
The lead was .35 of a second with five to go.
On the final lap the lead was .45 of a second. There was no drama on the final lap as Kyle Busch was able to score his first win of the season by .3 tenths of a second over Harvick. McMurray held on for third, Jones fourth and Blaney was fifth.
Logano was sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Wallace eighth, with Bowyer and William Byron rounding out the top 10.
The series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 next Sunday with live coverage on Fox with the green flag falling just after 2:00 p.m. ET.
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