FORT WORTH, Texas (March 30, 2019)
Kyle Busch’s Xfinity Series crew chief says there’s no secret strategy whenever “Rowdy” starts his engine in one of NASCAR’s three national touring series.
“The expectations are high when he’s running a car and if we finish second, it’s probably our fault,” Ben Beshore said matter-of-factly Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. “So we have to step-up.”
Beshore and his crew did so big-time during the latter stages of the 23rd annual My Bariatric Solutions 300, when his call for fuel-only during the race’s ninth and final caution period positioned Busch for his 95th career series victory. Next up is a potential sweep of this weekend’s tripleheader schedule.
Busch added his ninth Xfinity Series victory around TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval to his win Friday night in the Vankor 350 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event. Busch could lower the broom during Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, which he will start from the 16th position. The defending event winner, Busch’s 53 career Cup wins include three in Cowtown.
Busch took the lead Saturday from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell on pit road on Lap 192 during the race’s final caution starting on Lap 190 of the scheduled 200, taking fuel only in the No. 18 iK9 First Foundation Toyota Supra. Bell’s stop included two right side tires on his No. 20 Ruud Toyota, a decision that dropped him to third behind reigning series champion Tyler Reddick.
“Sometimes you’ve got to have luck on your side. Not taking any tires was certainly a help,” said Busch, who led 33 laps. “We only did fuel. Guys didn’t have a whole lot to do…we were racing the No. 2 (of Reddick) on exit and we were able to beat him out and control the rest. I could go when I wanted to, got a good launch. Once I was free I could make up ground. Overall, yeah, pit road was good.
“I was worried about the restart on old tires like that, didn’t know if we’d have enough grip. This Toyota Supra was awesome today. It was really fast. Really fast on the long run, I just could never get people away from me on the front side of the run to just settle into my rhythm and settle into my run and be able to go. Every time I got to the outside people would just drive by me on the bottom, and then I'd get to the inside and somebody would bust it on the outside on me and make me loose. We were just all over the place. Certainly, a fast race car once I could get rolling.”
Busch’s nine Xfinity Series wins at “The Great American Speedway” include a streak of five straight from 2008-2010. Saturday’s win was the ninth in 14 starts across NASCAR’s three national touring series in 2019 for Busch, a 33-year-old native of Las Vegas.
Beshore said his decision to continue on used Goodyear rubber was all about track position. “Us, the No. 20 and the No. 2 car were basically the same speed,” Beshore said. “With a short run at the end and caution after caution, I wanted to get him up front and close to the front as we could.”
Busch bolted away from the field when the race went green on Lap 195 en route to finishing 0.861-seconds ahead of Reddick, who also took on fuel-only, in the No. 2 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro SS.
"Today, we just struggled a little bit finding a good balance that worked for both Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 since they're so different here,” said Reddick, of Richard Childress Racing. “But we really hit on something at the end of the race and the car came to life. If I could run the top line for restarts and then continue it during a run, the handling was much more consistent throughout a run. We're so close to putting RCR in Victory Lane for the first time this year. We just need a little bit more."
Reddick exited Texas with a 12-point lead (268-256) in the championship standings over Bell, who finished third after qualifying on-pole at 191.320 mph earlier Saturday. Busch said he felt Bell, who led a race-high 127 laps, should have won the race. Beshore declared that his driver was the difference. “It’s his work ethic,” Beshore said of Busch. “He studies a lot, works a lot through the week, watches video, ask questions to us, goes back-and-forth on debriefs. He doesn’t just show up and put the hammer down and go.”
Busch now is in weekend sweep-mode for the second time this season, having won the NGOTS and Xfinity series events at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway one month ago before finishing third in the Cup race. His Cup effort at LVMS -- a sister speedway to TMS -- was sabotaged by a mid-race speeding penalty.
Busch does own tripleheader NASCAR sweeps on the high-banked/half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in 2010 and 2017.
“I’ve been close here before,” said Busch, whose 203 career NASCAR victories include a record 95 in the Xfinity Series. “To go after another means a lot. I’m in that position and got a better (No. 18) Interstate Batteries Camry than I did yesterday. We worked on it (Saturday) and made some headway and we’ve got to race it out.”
Rounding out Saturday’s top-10 were Chase Briscoe, Jeb Burton, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Jeffrey Earnhardt, John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Sieg.
Sieg emerged from a series of cautions to win Stage 2 after 90 laps in the No. 39 CMR Construction & Roofing Chevrolet. Sieg, of RSS Racing, led eight laps and scored the first stage win of his Xfinity career. He was followed by Ross Chastain, Reddick, Busch, Noah Gragson, Bell, Burton, Cole Custer, Haley and Brandon Jones.
Bell reprised his pole-winning effort from earlier in the day by leading all 45 laps of Stage 1. Bell was followed to the green/checkered flag by Busch, Justin Allgaier, Custer, Jones, Reddick, Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski, Nemechek and Gragson.
Busch won the first race off pit road while Bell was flagged for entering too fast, an infraction that dropped him from second to 19th.
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