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BUSCH WINS RAIN-DELAYED DUCK COMMANDER 500, COMPLETES TMS SWEEP

Kyle Busch completed his second NASCAR sweep in as many weekends Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, overcoming an early pit road mishap to win the rain-delayed 20th annual Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series marathon.

Busch, who posted a dominant victory in Friday night’s 20th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY Series event, finished 3.904-seconds ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after 334 laps/501-miles around TMS’ high-banked, 1.5-mile quadoval.

“We kept making changes to our race car, kept making it better,” said Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. “What better way for them (Interstate) to celebrate 25 years with Joe Gibbs Racing than a win in their hometown.”

Busch scored his 36th career Cup victory. He has finished in the top-five in six of seven Cup races this season en route to his ninth career sweep. Busch has recorded 13 NASCAR national series wins in Fort Worth.

Busch also has won the last four NASCAR touring series races. “Rowdy” completed a similar sweep last weekend on the half-mile Martinsville Speedway, where he won the Camping World Truck and Cup events. Busch, 30, also swept the spring events at TMS in 2013.

Joey Logano finished third with Jimmie Johnson in fourth _ snapping his three-race Cup win streak here _ and rookie Chase Elliott in fifth.

Following a weather delay of 1 hour, 50 minutes, the race began under a yellow flag condition. The green flag originally was scheduled to fall for the seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the season at 6:46 p.m. (CDT), but intermittent rain put the start on hold.

The field of 40 followed TMS’ Official Chevrolet SS Pace Car for five laps as drivers radioed-in their feedback on the condition of a high-banked, 1.5-mile quadoval washed green of rubber by the rain. Once the green flag flew, a competition yellow to check for tire wear was set for approximately Lap 30 of the scheduled 334.

Pole-sitter Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry, led Logano and his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion after 23 laps. By Lap 25, a black groove of fresh Goodyear rubber was beginning to circle the preferred bottom lane.

Kevin Harvick was among the early movers, advancing from 22nd to 11th in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS after 28 laps.

The competition caution waved after 29 laps, with Edwards leading Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops /TRACKER Boats Toyota and Logano in third.

Pit road was opened on Lap 30, setting off a scramble for four tires. While pit road was not as dry as the racing surface, Edwards held onto P1 upon exit.

Meanwhile, two of the pre-race favorites were involved in a bump-and-run incident exiting pit road. Jimmie Johnson, who has won the last three Cup races at TMS and six overall, sustained front end damage on the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS when he made contact with the right rear bumper of Busch’s Toyota. Busch was forced to brake in traffic, leaving Johnson with little chance to stop.

Johnson’s pit stop was marred by an incident in which his rear tire changer got tangled with the gas man while switching sides. The damage to both cars, while not significant, was expected to affect the aerodynamic balances of each machine.

Truex became the race’s second leader under green when he passed Edwards on Lap 59, holding the point through a round of green flag pit stops beginning on Lap 69. At Lap 85, Truex had opened a lead of 1.280-seconds over Edwards, who had passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS three laps earlier.

Truex’s blistering pace began to rack up the back end of the field. On Lap 92, Truex put Ryan Newman one lap down in his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS. That pass left half of the starting field at least one lap down heading to the one-third mark.

On Lap 124, Paul Menard’s No. 27 Rockstar Energy/Menards Chevrolet SS was ordered into the pits by NASCAR officials for manipulating the bodywork of his car”¦specifically an adjustment to the right rear wheel well to gain an aerodynamic advantage.

Truex, meanwhile, was beginning to check-out. At Lap 130 Truex had stretched his lead over Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota to 5.430-seconds, with Edwards in third, Junior in fourth and Harvick rounding out the top-five. Johnson and Kyle Busch _ in spite of their earlier pit road mishap _ had settled into sixth and seventh, respectively, when the race’s third caution flew for debris in Turn 4 on Lap 136.

Truex led the pack onto pit road, but was beaten out by Edwards and Kenseth by a couple of car-lengths.

During an ensuing round of green flag pit stops on Lap 177, Earnhardt’s exit was marked by a flash fire under the lower left rear created by spilled fuel. The fire quickly flamed-out and Junior settled into third, behind the Toyotas of Edwards and Truex.

The leader board at Lap 200 read Edwards, Truex and Earnhardt, all within 4.344-seconds. The average speed was 151.229 mph. Through 205 laps, Edwards and Truex had combined to lead a staggering 200 circuits.

Truex regained the point on Lap 209, relegating Edwards to second while Busch moved into third. Earnhardt had dropped to seventh when the No. 30 CrawfestNB.com Chevrolet SS of Josh Wise hit the Turn 3 wall and brought out the fourth caution.

Meanwhile, Harvick’s team was penalized for entering the pits too fast and for an uncontrolled tire during his stop, dropping the Stewart-Haas Racing ace from seventh to 11th. With pit stops completed, Kenseth was in the lead with Edwards second and Truex third as the race went green on Lap 222.

Edwards’ race began to unravel on the restart, as the car slowed with a problem with one of the wheels. A replay showed the right front tire was not secured with enough lug nuts _ a mistake that dropped Edwards to 19th, one lap down.

Truex surrendered the lead during a subsequent round of green flag pit stops involving the leaders _ a move that vaulted Trevor Bayne to the point. Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion fielded by Roush Fenway Racing, built a massive 23.531-second lead”¦that held for 12 laps until Truex breezed past. Truex was in the lead on Lap 278 when the night’s fifth caution flew for debris on the frontstretch. The top five included Busch, Kenseth, Logano and rookie Chase Elliott in the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS.

Four-tire pit stops ensued, with Truex beating Busch and Kenseth out. However, Kenseth’s crew failed to secure the left rear tire due to a flying lug nut, forcing the 2003 series champion to return to his box. The miscue dropped Kenseth to 13th in a field with only 15 cars on the lead-lap. Logano replaced Kenseth in third, with Denny Hamlin taking over fourth in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota. Elliott held serve in fifth with 51 laps remaining.

The field had completed only three green flag laps when Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Kleen Performance Ford Fusion, crashed hard into the wall between Turns 1 and 2 after contact with Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS.

While Truex and Austin Dillon remained on-track, a group of leaders dove into the pits for another round of fresh rubber. Included were the cars driven by Elliott (two tires), Logano, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17 Zest Ford, Hamlin, Earnhardt and Harvick.

That only set the stage for “The Big One” on Lap 294 _ when Hamlin’s inside pass of Dillon seemed to upset the balance of the No. 3 Chevy. Dillon slid up the track and in front of Johnson, whose tap triggered a 12-car wreck on the backstretch. The cars involved included those of Johnson, Kenseth and Stenhouse.

Elliott opted to pit again for tires, costing him five spots to eighth. Truex retained the lead over Kyle Busch and Logano as Lap 300 was recorded under yellow.

The restart on Lap 303 saw Busch power past Truex entering Turn 3, with Truex promptly dropping to fifth behind Logano, Johnson and Elliott. Six laps later, Johnson passed Truex for fifth.

Busch’s lead over Logano grew to 1.886-seconds on Lap 315, with Hendrick Motorsports teammates Earnhardt, Elliott and Johnson next in line. 

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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