Kyle Busch moved one win closer to a Lone Star sweep with a Saturday afternoon victory in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
While his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra wasn’t quite as dominant as his Tundra appeared to be in the Friday night Truck Series race, Busch executed a perfect launch on the final restart to take the lead. Over the final eight laps, Busch held off Tyler Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro to secure his ninth Xfinity Series win at Texas Motor Speedway and the 95th of his series career.
“This Toyota Supra was awesome today,” Busch said. “It was really fast on the long run [but] I could just never get people away from me on the front side of the run to get settled into my rhythm and be able to go. Every time I got to the outside, people would just drive by me on the bottom. Then when I’d get to the inside, somebody would bust it on the outside on me and make me loose.
“Certainly a fast race car, though, once I could get rolling. [My teammate] Christopher Bell ran a great race — he should have won this thing today.”
Bell, who finished third, led a race-high 128 laps. But the “fuel only” decision by Busch’ crew chief Ben Beshore on the final pit stop afforded the No. 18 the lead for the last run, and Busch gradually extended his advantage over Reddick to 0.861s at the finish line.
“Not taking any tires was certainly a help,” Busch said. “We jumped the field there but I was worried about the restart because I didn’t think there was going to be enough grip. But the car certainly had enough grip in it.”
Chase Briscoe, Jeb Burton, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Jeffrey Earnhardt, John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Sieg rounded out the top 10.
Bell ran flag-to-flag through the first stage to score his fourth stage win of 2019. However, he was penalized for speeding on pit road during his pit stop — and he wasn’t the only JGR driver with a penalty: Brandon Jones left his pits with a jack still underneath his No. 19 Supra. Both drivers dropped to the rear of the field for the Lap 54 restart.
The second stage was slowed by two cautions in the early laps. Tyler Hill and David Starr collided on Lap 57, and before those drivers were back up to full speed, Justin Haley’s car got loose and he slid into Brad Keselowski.
“Frustrating day,” Keselowski said after he was released from the infield care center. The 2010 Xfinity Series champion finished 35th.
Noah Gragson took the lead from Busch on the Lap 71 restart, but just eight laps later, Ray Black Jr., went for a wild ride, spinning backwards into the Turn 2 wall. Five laps after that, the leaders pitted with just six laps remaining in the stage.
Sieg stayed out and took over the lead, with Ross Chastain and Haley lined up second and third. Busch, the first car off of pit road, restarted fourth on Lap 87. Sieg held on for the first stage win of his career followed by Chastain, Reddick, Busch and Bell.
Reddick restarted on the point, but the JGR Supra tandem of Bell and Busch teamed up on the No. 2 Childress Camaro, Bell easing back into the lead on Lap 99. He held the position for 28 laps until Justin Allgaier, who was battling the lapped vehicle of Gray Gaulding and Cole Custer for sixth, entered the spin cycle. The No. 7 JR Motorsports Camaro went for a ride through the front stretch grass before a trip to pit road.
Reddick exited the pits with the lead. Bell, Busch, Jones and Custer lined up for the Lap 131 restart. As the field completed the first lap and rolled into Turn 2, Jones and Custer collided to trigger Caution 8.
Entering Texas, Custer and Jones were second and fourth, respectively in the standings. They were scored 32nd and 33rd.
Bell and Reddick battled for the next 15 laps until the No. 20 Supra finally pulled away. The final 20 laps became an exercise in fuel management before Jeremy Clements ran out of fuel on pit road to bring out the ninth and final caution.
Bell led the field onto pit lane but when the No. 20 team opted for tires, too, Busch exited the pit with the lead.
“I was starting to struggle on that long run,” Bell said. “It was frustrating to be beat by guys with no tires, but that’s just how it goes at Texas.
Busch nailed the restart and sailed off into the lead, easily holding off Reddick for his third Xfinity win of the season and his ninth victory across NASCAR’s top three series this season.
While Busch has swept the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck, Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series races before — at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2010 and 2017 — he’s never pulled off the feat at Texas.
“Excited for my group to bring home a win for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said. “I look forward to hopefully getting another one tomorrow.”Reddick retained the lead in the Xfinity Series standings by 12 points over Bell.
“He wasn’t better anywhere; he just had track position,” Reddick said of Busch. “I want to beat him one of these days. We’re getting there. Every time I race against Kyle, it makes me a better driver.”
Reddick, Bell, Chase Briscoe and Michael Annett are qualified for the Dash 4 Cash program starting next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. All four drivers will have a chance to compete for the $100,000 bonus.