FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Busch held off his young teammate Christian Eckes during a late-race restart to earn his third NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory of the season Saturday evening at Texas Motor Speedway.
Making his final start of the season in the Truck Series, Busch and Eckes battled for the lead for most of the second half of the race. Eckes was able to hold off Busch until the final cycle of pit stops, when Busch was able to get on and off pit road better than Eckes and take the lead.
Busch had a comfortable lead over Eckes after the pit cycle, but a crash with 15 laps to go on the backstretch involving Todd Gilliland and Ben Rhodes slowed the field and set up a 10-lap dash to the finish between Busch and Eckes.
When the green flag waved with 10 laps left Busch, who restarted on the top, and Eckes went to war for the lead. They stayed side-by-side for more than two laps, with Busch and Eckes each leading a lap as they battled for the lead.
Finally with eight laps left Busch was able to use a strong run through turns one and two to pull clear of Eckes at the front of the field. Eckes stayed close to Busch during the final eight laps, but he was never able to get close enough to challenge Busch for the race lead again.
Busch crossed the finish line .777 seconds ahead of Eckes to claim the victory, the 59th of his Truck Series career. The victory came only a few hours after he crossed the finish line first in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, only to be disqualified in post-race inspection.
“What can you say about Christian? He’s getting better each and every week. Every time out getting that chemistry going more and more with Rudy Fugle and those guys, so real proud of that Safelite Tundra running fast and being there to challenge us at the end,” Busch said of his younger teammate. “I wanted to make sure we went out on a win and got our Cessna/Beechcraft Tundra in victory lane.”
Eckes settled for a career-best runner-up result to his boss and teammate. He identified the final round of green flag pit stops as the moment he lost control of the race.
“I wish Kyle had picked a different race to go to,” Eckes joked after the race. “It was such a great day for our No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra. Green flag pit stops came, I thought I knew where my marks were and I thought I did an OK job and he was a straightaway ahead of me.
“I’ve got a little bit of work to do overall, but we battled hard and it was really fun to go toe to toe with the best. Just got to be a little bit better to beat him. I thought our truck was good enough to beat him. I’ve just got to improve a few things.”
Matt Crafton matched his best finish of the season in third, while Stewart Friesen collected his best result of the season in fourth. Brett Moffitt completed the top-five finishers.
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