FORT WORTH, Texas – For the second time this season, Kyle Busch’s dream of sweeping a NASCAR tripleheader weekend fell flat, this time during Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch, who won Friday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, led a race-high 66 laps in the grand finale on Sunday before slapping the outside wall with 54 to go.
Five laps prior to the contact, Busch washed up out of the groove in the same section of the track, with the handling on his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota deteriorating in the closing stanza.
“It just broke loose,” said Busch of his car. “I kind of felt it getting a little bit freer as we were going there, but you’re still trying to hustle as hard as you can and get all you can through the corners in order to keep your lap time going … and it just busted loose on me. I had to catch it and make sure we didn’t crash, first and foremost, and we did that, but then I got back in line and got rolling and started gaining back on those guys in front of us … but I had to chase it on exit of (turn) two one time behind the 10 (Aric Almirola) and just knocked the fence down.
“We made an adjustment there to tighten it up going into that run, and we got looser,” Busch added. “Just something to learn from there.”
Busch had to make an unscheduled – and early – final pit stop, but rallied back to 10th when the full cycle of green-flag stops came full circle.
It wasn’t a victory, however, and that ate at the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion after the checkered flag had waved.
Busch is the only driver in NASCAR history to have won in all three national series at the same track in the same weekend, doing so at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2010 and 2017, and wanted to replicate the feat in the Lone Star State.
“I hate it for all of my guys and everybody that works so hard on these cars,” noted Busch. “They deserve to win; they should’ve won and (we) threw it away.”
Sunday’s race at Texas was decidedly more entertaining than recent editions of the Cup Series at the 1.5-mile quad-oval have been, but Busch said dirty air was still a factor – even if the way it affected the cars in traffic was different than it has been in the past.
“It’s pretty different,” he explained. “When you’re having to go as hard as you’re hustling through the corners, and trying to run as close to wide open as you can, sometimes your car needs that downforce and it needs that air to be on top of it in order to make sure you have that grip. We just didn’t have it there a couple of times (today).”
Busch remained the Cup Series point leader despite Sunday’s slight setback, and he continues to be the only driver in the field with a top-10 finish in each of the seven events held so far this year.
The Las Vegas native now heads to Bristol, where he’s won seven times in the Cup Series, including two of the last three.
“We’ll get them next week,” said Busch. “We just have to keep moving forward.”