Barnes: Five takeaways from the Duck Commander 500

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 from Texas Motor Speedway is officially over and for the second consecutive week Kyle Busch is the victor. Here are the latest five takeaways from NASCAR’s trip to the 1.5-mile oval.

1) Kyle Busch

Can someone seriously stop this man? ‘Rowdy’ is, without question, at the best place of his career both personally and professionally, and it shows both on the track and during interviews. The reigning 2015 Sprint Cup champion has rattled off four wins in eight days among all three of NASCAR’s top touring series. Did he dominate at Texas? No. But, he showed up when it mattered and like it or not, Busch is off to the best start of his Sprint Cup career. A happy KyBu is a scary good Kybu and this season could get ugly if he gets a roll folks.

2) Burned by Pearn

Without question, the dominant car in the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 was Martin Truex Jr. The New Jersey native led a race-high 141 laps and was on point when he faltered on a late restart and fell to finish sixth. Prior to the late restart, there was mix up between he and crew chief Cole Pearn. In which Pearn wanted Truex to pit, but hearing the call late caused Truex to nearly takeout the commitment cone before pushing back up the track and missing pit road. If the No. 78 team want to be taken seriously they have to stop hurting themselves and just close the deal. If they handled things better, Truex could have two wins already in the opening seven races between Daytona and Texas.

3) Tires

Texas Motor Speedway is similar to Atlanta Motor Speedway in size and configuration, but Goodyear decided it best to bring a new tire to Saturday night’s race. The new right side tire compound was tested at Homestead last December, and after the tire debacle in the last race at Texas who could blame the longtime NASCAR tire manufacturer bring something new to the track. The high groove never came in so the racing was surprisingly different from what everyone saw at Atlanta, whether it be due to weather, the lower downforce package, or both, drivers took a liking to the new compound. Dale Earnhardt Jr. admittedly said he thought it was “better” than what they had at Atlanta. Oh, and there were zero tire failures on Saturday night, so that helps.

4) Chasing Elliott

Rookie sensation Chase Elliott qualified fourth for the Duck Commander 500, but a transmission change forced him to start the race from the back of the field. That didn’t stop him. The 2014 XFINITY Series champion drove all the way up through the field, looking like a contender for the win before ending the night in fifth. Texas, the site of Elliott’s first XFINITY Series win, is now the site of his career-best Sprint Cup Series finish, for now.

5) Just missed…

In a series where all Joe Gibbs Racing cars finishing in the top 10 has become the norm (as they did Saturday night), it’s important to highlight a team on the rise that was overlooked by simple bad luck. Both Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Roush Fenway Racing made their mark at the 1.5-mile – running among the top 10 before some wackiness set in. Bayne decided to run a different strategy than the rest of the field, inheriting the lead from laps 260 – 272, pitting shortly after from second place before having a caution hit exactly one lap later and put him a lap down. Moments later both Bayne and Stenhouse received damage in a late accident involving 13-cars, but both recovered to finish an astounding 15th and 16th. Don’t look now, but Roush Fenway Racing are a program very much on the rise.

Overall, Saturday night’s race was something different and unexpected in what has already been a fun season to watch. It’ll be interesting to see if JGR can continue to dominate or if another team can rise back up to rival the organization that up to this point has a stronghold on the series. Guess we’ll find out at Bristol.

Image: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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