BUSCH ADDS TO NASCAR NATIONAL SERIES WIN TOTAL AT TMS WITH SUNDAY’S O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 VICTORY
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 9, 2018) – Kyle Busch has enough cowboy hats to start a Western wear store in Charlotte, N.C.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, won Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 for his 14th national series victory — and 14th cowboy hat — at Texas Motor Speedway.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 was his third Cup win at the Fort Worth venue and moved him into third for most career wins at Texas, trailing only Jimmie Johnson (7) and Carl Edwards (4). Busch’s other Cup wins came in this spring event in 2013 and ’16. He also has a track-record eight Xfinity Series wins to go along with three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories.
It was Busch’s 185th career NASCAR national series triumph and 44th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The victory moved him into a tie for 16th all time with Bill Elliott for career Cup wins and two behind Buck Baker for 15th.
“Yeah, it’s cool,” Busch said. “Certainly any time you keep winning races and kind of keep moving up the ladder, it’s really special. For myself and for as much as I love to win and hate to lose, it obviously feels a heck of a lot better when you can be in this room talking about a win rather than a second or third, something like that, like we have been the past six weeks. That’s hopefully going to continue to grow and continue to get farther up. We’ll see how far we can get.”
Busch led four times for a race-high 116 laps to give him 864 career laps led at Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s total allowed him to move past Tony Stewart and into third all time at Texas. He now only trails Johnson (1,041) and Matt Kenseth (883) in that category.
EARLY-SEASON SLUMP CONTINUES FOR JOHNSON
Texas Motor Speedway seemed like the perfect medicine to cure Jimmie Johnson’s early-season woes.
Johnson, with just one top-10 finish in the first six races and 17th in the standings, was arriving at a track where he was the defending race winner, owns a track-record seven Cup victories and ranks first in every major career statistical category.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet, qualified ninth for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and then showed additional speed as the seven-time Cup champion was the fastest in Saturday’s final practice.
Johnson, however, was collected in a multi-car accident early in Stage 3 of the 334-lap race, relegating him to a 35th-place finish. It was his worst finish at Texas Motor Speedway since finishing 38th in the fall race of 2009 and worst ever in the spring event.
Johnson is far from discouraged from the weekend in Texas.
“By the time I saw what went on the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) was backwards and smoking the tires coming up the track,” Johnson said afterward. “I knew where his arc was taking him and I knew that I was in trouble in the outside lane and going to get into him some. And then the crash just kind of continued from there.
“So, unfortunate circumstances, but a lot to build on from this weekend. A strong Friday, a fantastic Saturday and then not the best Sunday. We had a lot of different things work against us today (Sunday), but we are getting closer each and every week and I’m really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We will get back to our winning ways soon.”
Led by Kyle Busch‘s first win of the season, five of the top-10 finishers in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 posted season-best efforts.
Those Cup drivers recording season-best finishes through seven races were Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray (3rd), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones (4th), Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch (7th) and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron (10th).
For Jones, it was his first top-five finish of the season and fourth top 10.
“For me, the top 10s this year are good, but we really want to run in the top five, get up there and contend and lead laps,” said Jones, who led twice for 64 laps in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. “We really want to win a race this year. Today was a step in the right direction.
“This is a good two‑week stretch. Coming in, I was pretty excited going to Texas number one, then off to Bristol next week. Fun weeks for me, two of my favorite tracks. We just need to keep it going.”
The fifth-place effort by Team Penke’s Ryan Blaney matched his second-best finish of the season and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Bubba Wallace Jr.‘s eighth-place finish was his best outing since finishing second in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“Hell yeah, we needed that,” Wallace Jr. said. “That was a good week off for us to re-group. The guys did a hell of a job all weekend long. I thought we had pretty decent speed and a lot of people in the garage were like ‘your car is pretty good, so just don’t mess it up.’ ”
GOT YOUR NUMBER
In Phoenix, it was Brad Keselowski. In California, it was Joey Logano. In Texas on Saturday, it was Ryan Blaney.
Of late, it doesn’t seem to matter who is behind the wheel of the No. 22 Xfinity Series entry for Team Penske because the final stop always seems to end up in the same place: Victory Lane.
Blaney’s dominant win in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway was the third consecutive for the No. 22 Ford Mustang. He led 132 of the 200 laps and cruised to a 2.327-second margin of victory over Christopher Bell.
“I’m not going to lie, Brad and Joey definitely reminded me of that this week,” Blaney said. “It is in the back of your mind. You never want to be the person who breaks the streak of wins, especially when the car has been so fast. That’s a huge feat to do.”
In its last 12 starts dating to Sept. of 2017, the No. 22 entry has 11 top-five finishes, including four wins. Over the last three races, Keselowski, Logano and Blaney have combined to lead 337 of 550 laps. That translates to the No. 22 being on point 61 percent of the time.
With Logano providing color commentary for FOX Sports 1 at Bristol Motor Speedway this Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, that means it will be up to Blaney or Keselowski to keep the streak alive.
“That says a lot about Brian’s work that he has done and the whole team to bring fast race cars to the tracks lately,” said Blaney of the No. 22’s crew chief, Brian Wilson. “Hopefully we can keep this up.”
SHOW ME THE MONEY
The Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter conducted its first 50/50 raffle over the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
The raffle raised $96,174 with $48,087 going to a lucky winner. The winning ticket number was 3447006096 and has yet to be claimed.
If you have the winning ticket, please send a photo of your ticket to email@example.com with your preferred contact information. Winner must claim the prize within 30 days of draw date (by May 7, 2018).
Texas Motor Speedway will play host to a motorsports tripleheader June 7-9 that is highlighted by the DXC Technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race.
The weekend will feature the Rattlesnake 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, June 8, followed by the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series and DXC Technology 600 on Saturday, June 9.