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Kyle Busch Takes Texas For First Win Of ’18

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 8 2018

Kyle Busch held off Kevin Harvick to win at Texas On Sunday.
(RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

RacinToday.com

Kyle Busch held off Kevin Harvick over the final 20 laps and went on to wins Sunday’s 500-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The victory was the first of the season for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He led a race-best 116 laps in his Toyota.

Harvick, who won the first three of the first four races of the season, finished second – .3 second back in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“They (Harvick) were probably just a tick faster overall,” Busch, who has finished as runner-up three times this season, said. “I just had to do everything I could to hit all my marks and everything and focus on making sure I did the right things to block his air a little bit.”

Harvick led 87 laps but not the right ones.

“We had a really fast car,” Harvick said. “Kyle’s car was just fast enough to where I needed to go the whole run to be able to make up the ground that I needed to. It just didn’t turn as well in traffic there.”

Jamie McMurray finished third in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy.

“We just had a really good car and were able to miss some of those accidents,” McMurray said. “The off-weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for us.  We had such a horrible season going and it’s awesome to run as good as we did today at a 1.5-mile.  We have so many of these and I feel like we have been a little bit behind on the 1.5-miles but had a really good run today.”

Rounding out the top five were Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

With 30 laps to go, the yellow came out when Ryan Newman had a tire problem and crashed. On the track, Busch led Harvick behind two drivers who were on an alternate pit strategy.

When the race went green with 23 laps to go, Busch jumped out quickly but Harvick stayed close and both began pulling away from the field.

With 17 to go, Busch began putting a gap of about a half second between him and Harvick. Harvick never did put himself in position to catch, let alone, pass Busch.

“It means a lot,” Busch said of getting his first win of the season. “It just kind of solidifies your Playoffs and solidifies us in being the points leader and the way we’ve been running this year. My guys were just so good. I can’t say enough about everybody on my team and you know, we’ve just got everything clicking right now. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) does a great job. He leads these guys really really well. We all communicate so well and we do what we need to do inside the hauler to make sure that we have a good race car and get good feedback and things like that to be able to have fast race cars on race day.”

Harvick had his good day despite a series of problems on pit road – problems which included a lug nut getting jammed in the jack and a penalty for a loose tire which put him a lap down.

“It was just an absolutely pathetic two days on pit road,” Harvick said.

Wrecks took top drivers like defending series champion Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson.

For Truex, the problem was tire failure.

“Well, just blew a right-front tire out of nowhere,” Truex, who was running second at the time, said. “Not sure what happened there – if we run something over or what. I think the first set of tires that came off the car looked great. We were just making our way towards the front. I think we were second when we blew a tire there. Would’ve been nice to have at least finished that first stage before it happened, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Ditto for Larson.

Just hate that I blew a right-front (tire) there.  I was pretty tight but didn’t really expect to blow a right-front.  Restarted up front there and was just really tight for a few laps and then actually got going pretty good.  Just needed to get by Joey (Logano) there and I felt like I was one of the faster cars out there.  So, felt like we could have had a shot at the end of the race, but it was cut short.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 8 2018
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