By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
FORT WORTH, Tex. – Kyle Busch broke his NASCAR XFINITY Series “losing streak” on Friday night and in the process moved into rarefied air in the Lone Star State.
With a dominating victory from the pole in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch won for the fourth time in five XFINITY starts this year. His only loss in that stretch was a second-place run after a late blown tire robbed him of victory in his last outing at Auto Club Speedway.
But on Friday night, Busch was back to his winning ways, leading a race-high 150 laps at the 1.5-mile track, notching his record eighth victory at Texas and extending his own series record to 80 triumphs.
With victories in the Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series last week at Martinsville, Busch now has three straight NASCAR wins, and on Saturday night he’ll go for a fourth in the Duck Commander 500 Cup race at Texas (on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET).
But he already has eight winner’s cowboy hats from the XFINITY Series alone (and 12 overall).
“I guess you have a spare one for every day of the week,” Busch said with a grin. “It certainly is a good problem to have. We’ve had some really good runs here over the years, and we’ve been really fast. This NOS Energy Drink Camry was great.
“We got our money’s worth out of it and (crew chief Chris) Gayle got his money’s worth out of it, too, on the pit box today. We had to make some adjustments to it and fine-tune on it to make it better and better.”
Erik Jones, Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, ran second, and Brad Keselowski came home third. JR Motorsports drivers—Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler—occupied the next four spots.
Series leader Daniel Suarez finished 16th, one lap down, after spinning in Turn 4 on Lap 77 and saw his margin in the standings over second-place Sadler shrink to one point.
Jones was relegated to the rear of the field after his pit crew jumped over the wall too soon on a stop under caution on Lap 77. But Jones recovered adroitly, powering his No. 20 Toyota through the field to claim the runner-up spot.
“Getting the penalty didn’t help but it wasn’t the reason we ran second either,” Jones said. “We just didn’t take a big enough swing to free it up (on the final pit stop on Lap 148). The track just tightened up as it rubbered up. Then it got slick again and we didn’t keep up with it enough.”
Busch had retaken the lead from Kyle Larson on Lap 120 and opened a lead of more than three seconds before Jeb Burton’s Ford blew a tire on Lap 144, slammed the Turn 2 wall and collected Blake Koch’s Chevrolet in the process.
“I was really, really tight, and I was chattering tires all night,” Burton said after he was released from the infield care center. “I went into (Turn) 1, and I thought I had a problem, but it was too late.”
With a strong push from Jones, Busch held the top spot after a restart on Lap 152, and by the time the lap count reached 181 of 200, his advantage had ballooned to 2.9 seconds. The rest was academic, as Busch maintained a comfortable working margin and arrived at the finish line 3.055 seconds ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
1. (1) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 200.
2. (2) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 200.
3. (8) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 200.
4. (16) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 200.
5. (11) Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i), Chevrolet, 200.
6. (23) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 200.
7. (15) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 200.
8. (7) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200.
9. (9) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 200.
10. (14) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 200.
11. (4) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 200.
12. (13) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 200.
13. (6) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
14. (10) Ryan Reed, Ford, 200.
15. (19) Darrell Wallace Jr., Ford, 200.
16. (3) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 199.
17. (18) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 197.
18. (26) David Starr, Toyota, 197.
19. (5) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 197.
20. (27) Matt Tifft(i), Toyota, 197.
21. (17) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 196.
22. (33) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, 196.
23. (24) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 195.
24. (20) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 195.
25. (36) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 194.
26. (22) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 193.
27. (30) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 192.
28. (21) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 190.
29. (37) BJ McLeod #, Ford, 189.
30. (34) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 189.
31. (35) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 188.
32. (31) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, 186.
33. (39) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 182.
34. (25) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, Accident, 143.
35. (12) Jeb Burton, Ford, Accident, 142.
36. (38) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, Electrical, 85.
37. (40) Todd Peck, Ford, Overheating, 42.
38. (29) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Clutch, 40.
39. (32) Carl Long, Dodge, Engine, 9.
40. (28) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 8.
Image: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images