Kyle Busch stretched his fuel to snap his win drought on Wednesday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch was one of the first drivers to make his final green-flag pit stop, doing so with 67 laps to go. It was about eight laps earlier than Martin Truex Jr. The duo cycled to the top two spots with 23 laps to go when Clint Bowyer was forced to pit for a final time, and Busch managed a one-second gap over the last run, coached all the while by crew chief Adam Stevens on when to save fuel and when to run harder.
“I don’t know – just kept getting great leadership and mentoring from Adam and Tony (Hirschman, spotter), and those guys kept talking to me and kept reminding me about saving and being able to do what I could,” said Busch. “Trying to stay in the draft as much as I could on the straightaways. It ran out coming right in here to do a burnout.”
Texas is Busch’s first win since November 2019 at Homestead when he won his second championship. It is the 57th win of his NASCAR Cup Series career and his fourth at Texas.
Busch’s win kept the playoff drivers from locking into the championship race. Truex finished second, denied a win that would have allowed him to advance. Christopher Bell finished third with Ryan Blaney fourth, and Alex Bowman fifth.
Completing the top 10 was Brad Keselowski in sixth, Kurt Busch in seventh, Matt DiBenedetto in eighth, Denny Hamlin ninth, and Joey Logano 10th.
Kevin Harvick finished 16th. He’d damaged his car before the red flag on Sunday afternoon when he hit the wall off Turn 2 while leading. He made multiple pit stops early in the race Wednesday to allow the team to work on his Ford’s right side, and regained his lost lap when the caution flew on lap 61.
The handling of Harvick’s car started to go away in the final stage, and he was lapped again by Busch inside 20 laps to go.
Chase Elliott finished 20th, having never regained the lap he lost when he had to pit a second time under green on lap 202 for a tire issue.
The race was red-flagged for 72 hours, 28 minutes because of rain and mist. It restarted Wednesday after 5 p.m. ET on lap 57 with Clint Bowyer leading the field.
On lap 61, two drivers made unexpected early exits from the race. Matt Kenseth got loose off Turn 4 and slid up into Denny Hamlin and then spun to the inside, hitting Darrell Wallace Jr. Kenseth’s car was destroyed when he went through the frontstretch grass and tore the nose off, while Wallace hit the outside wall.
“I just hate it for my guys for sitting around for four days to have the race taken away from us like that,” said Wallace. “We’ll sit on the plane and wait to go home. I got two races left. It’s just unfortunate. Onto Martinsville.”
Bowyer won the first stage and led 89 laps. Busch won the second stage and led a race-high 90 laps.
“We finally got it,” said Busch of winning. “I was so nervous – I was nervous the whole last run. I’ve been in this position so many times. The last three laps, though, that’s like winning the championship – that’s how nervous I was. I can’t believe it, but just so proud to be here. My team guys, awesome pit stops; they were phenomenal.
“They all mean a lot. There’s certain circumstances and certain specialties to all of them. This one means a lot just to keep the 16 going. We’re out of the Playoffs and have nothing to shoot for. Everyone thought we were duds. We don’t ever give up.”