Kyle Busch is the bridesmaid no more.
Entering the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, Busch had finished second or third in four of the season’s first six races. Three of those were runner-up efforts.
At Texas, Busch broke through with his first win of the season by driving away from Kevin Harvick on the race’s final restart with 24 laps to go.
Harvick, who dominated the first stage of the race and led 87 laps, could only watch the No. 18. In fact, Busch even backed off when he needed to for Harvick’s car to be affected by dirty air.
“This has been a trying couple of months, I guess. After Daytona we’ve just been on a roll of finishing really good and been really excited and pumped about that and the momentum we were able to carry but frustrated at the same time trying to get to victory lane,” said Busch.
“It feels awesome. Any time you can win at a track that isn’t maybe one of your favorites or isn’t one of your best, then it definitely means even more because you try to focus on those tracks and make it a little bit more meaningful and special to get it done.
“So cool to be in victory lane here finally this year and punch our ticket into the playoffs, and of course, continue our hot streak of being the points leader right now and keeping these guys focused on what we need to do all year long.”
The victory is Busch’s third at Texas and first since 2016. It is his 44th career win.
Busch also won the second stage of the race. He led a race-high 116 laps and took control late in the third stage after charging past teammate Erik Jones on a restart. After making his final pit stop with 44 laps to go, Busch cycled back to the top spot and then held off Harvick.
Retweet to congratulate Kyle Busch on his WIN at Texas Motor Speedway! It’s the No. 18 team’s first victory of 2018. pic.twitter.com/agPu48vfLZ
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 8, 2018
Jamie McMurray earned his first top-10 finish of the season with a third-place result. Erik Jones led 64 laps and finish fourth while Ryan Blaney completed the top five.
Rounding out the top 10 were Joey Logano, pole-sitter Kurt Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr., Clint Bowyer and William Byron, the first top-10 of his Cup career.
The race featured 16 lead changes among eight drivers and eight caution flags. There was also an 11-minute red flag for a seven-car crash on Lap 179.