By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
A multi-car crash on the 219th lap of Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway brought out the 14th red flag this season.
The race had just restarted a lap before with Brad Keselowski, who was running on a two-tire strategy, leading the way. Things got wild once his Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano came into the picture.
Keselowski and Blaney had a tremendous battle for the lead, but Blaney got very loose in Turn 3, giving Keselowski the clear advantage. Blaney’s looseness led to Logano making a charge, but ended up tangling which bunched up the field.
While Blaney saved his car out of harm’s way, Logano was now dealing with a gaggle of cars. Those drivers quickly ran out of real estate as Kyle Busch tried muscling his way past the madness, but Aric Almirola ended up clipping him and all hell came loose at “The Lone Star State.”
A series of replays from this wreck at @TXMotorSpeedway.
Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and many more involved! TV: NBCSN pic.twitter.com/N2nZ7Zr0a6
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 19, 2020
The contact from Almirola sent Kyle into Martin Truex, Jr., who clobbered the Turn 4 wall. Kyle went from race car driver to a lawnmower expert as his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry went through the grass.
Despite the wild ride, Busch rallied back to finish fourth but mentioned the incident hurt his Camry.
“That killed the frontend. Hard to tell with the naked eye that there was anything wrong, but it was definitely not right after that,” said Busch. “We just kept trying to free it up and get the splitter back down to the ground somewhat to finish it out and get a good finish. Fortunately, we got that, but still not even close. A long way to go.”
The chaos had just begun because further behind, Cole Custer and Matt Kenseth collided and had a front row view of Truex’s careening car which started the second half of the big wreck. Custer plowed into Truex, causing the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry to get some air.
While that happened, Alex Bowman barely escaped without notable scratches while Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Bubba Wallace weren’t fortunate as the wreck carried onto Turn 1. Both William Byron and Chris Buescher spun around while both JTG Daugherty Racing drivers Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Ryan Preece took tremendous damage.
Once the carnage finally concluded, several drivers came to pit road to repair their damages with only Stenhouse, Custer and Preece failing to finish after the accident and wound up positions 38th through 40th.
Custer, who captured his maiden Cup win at Kentucky last Sunday, commented that it was a chain reaction and felt bummed out about going from an absolute high to a crushing blow due to his Texas exit.
“I mean it’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of — winning last week and part of a wreck this week,” said Custer. “I was on the brakes as hard as I could and then the 19, I think, came down from hitting the wall. It’s just one of those things where you couldn’t go anywhere. It felt bad.”
Due to the amount of debris and grass left from the melee, NASCAR halted the 334-lap race. Out of the last 14 Cup races, nine of them have had a red flag period.