by Justin Tucker
Kyle Busch set the tone for this weekend’s NRA 500 on Friday Evening. Busch captured the pole with a track record speed of 196.299 MPH and to top the night off he captured the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 for his third consecutive Nationwide Series win.
The only question that remained was whether Busch could sweep the weekend and capture his first Sprint Cup Series win at Texas Motor Speedway? After the smoke cleared on Saturday night Busch answered that question with a resounding yes, winning his second race of the year, holding off Martin Truex, Jr. by 1.2 seconds.
Busch, who led a race high 171, laps found his toughest competition of the night to be Martin Truex, Jr. Truex Jr. who came into the NRA 500 on a 209 race winless streak, proved to be a match for Busch and the No. 18 by leading 142 laps and seemed to have victory in his grasp until a late caution with 16 laps to go. When Busch’s No. 18 crew proved to be on the money during the final stop beating Truex’s #56 crew with an incredible 11.7 second four tire stop which proved to be the difference as Busch would pull away on the restart and hold Truex at bay for the final 15 laps.
Truex showed his obvious frustration during his post-race interview.
“I’m tired of finishing second. This is getting old,” Truex said.
Regardless of how irritating it may have been for Truex to be denied victory once again, he still benefitted from the run, which moved him up to 16th in the standings.
Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle proved that Roush Fenway Racing is still a force to be reckoned with at Texas by coming home thid and fourth in the running order. Edwards and Biffle sit fourth and fifth respectively in Sprint Cup Series points.
Jimmie Johnson continued his solid and steady 2013 season by recording his fifth top-10 in seven races this season by coming home sixth and extending his points lead to nine over Brad Keselowski.
Penske Racing’s weekend at Texas Motor Speedway was an adventure to say the least. Prior to the race, both the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski and No. 22 of Joey Logano were found to have illegal rear end housings and were forced by NASCAR to change the parts before the race. Even with the issues, which forced Logano to start at the rear of the field, both of the Penske cars turned in solid performances with Logano finishing fifth and Keselowski ninth.
Despite his top-10 finish, Keselowski was still not so pleased with NASCAR and voiced his sentiments after the race.
“There is no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team,” Keselowski said. “The way we have been treated over the last seven days is absolutely shameful.”
Penalties stemming from the illegal parts could be announced as early as Monday by NASCAR.
Jeff Gordon’s night at Texas went from good to great to awful in one fell swoop. Gordon’s No. 24 was fast all night long as he proved to be one of only two drivers that could pass Kyle Busch under green. Gordon, who led 15 laps on the evening, found trouble with 28 laps to go when the left front hub burned up on his Chevrolet. The failure relegated Gordon to a 38th-place finish, which dropped him to 15th in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also met difficulties on Saturday night. On lap 188, Earnhardt Jr. came down pit road with a battery issue. The stop cost him two laps, and the lack of a tachometer led to a pass-through penalty. Earnhardt Jr. would eventually finish four laps down in 29th. Earnhardt Jr. fell from third to a tie for fifth in the standings, 35 markers behind his teammate Johnson.
Ryan Newman continued to be the lone bright spot in what has been a dismal 2013 for Stewart-Haas Racing by recording his fourth top-10 of 2013 with a solid tenth place effort.
The Sprint Cup Series heads to the heartland of America next week at Kansas Speedway. The STP 400 at Kansas is scheduled for Sunday Afternoon with a scheduled 1:16 P.M. EST start time.