By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite being involved in a mid-race 10-car pileup, Kyle Busch managed to recover for a top-five finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
On lap 218, Busch’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry was solidly inside the top-10 in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. In the tight quarters, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver got hooked by his brother, Kurt Busch. The two-time and defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion spun across the track and hooked his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr.
What ensued was a track-blocking pileup. Several cars slammed into Truex after he ricocheted off the wall. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch raced through the grass in a move reminiscent to Ryan Preece during the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Luckily for Busch, his front splitter did not dig into the grass.
Busch had a very simple explanation as to how he did not lose control in the grass in the infield at Texas:
After pitting to repair minor fender damage and a hole in the nose, the No. 18 slowly climbed the running order. Busch climbed into the top-five by the final 30 laps. A late-race caution put Richard Childress Racing’s duo in the lead. Busch challenged Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick for position but was forced to settle for fourth when the checkered flag waved.
“Early on in the day, the first stage, the Interstate Batteries Camry was good and had some good speed,” explained Busch. “We led a little bit. The 12 (Ryan Blaney) was really, really fast. We could kind of hang with him, but once we got more cars around us and more traffic situations. It just became more and more ill-handling for us and the rest of the day we just kind of kept going backwards.
“Then took the shot through the grass and that killed the frontend. Hard to tell with the naked eye that there was anything wrong, but it was definitely not right after that. We just kept trying to free it up and get the splitter back down to the ground somewhat to finish it out and get a good finish. Fortunately, we got that, but still not even close. A long way to go.”
Busch ran up front throughout much of the 500-mile race after he started fourth via the random draw. He finished the first two stages in second and 10th, earning an additional 11-points.
Busch managed to lead twice for a combined 11 laps, however, he struggled to maintain his lead. He battled with Blaney and Denny Hamlin for the lead. After breaking loose, Busch drifted back, running just inside the top-five.
The fourth-place finish is the eighth top-five for Busch this season and 208th of his Cup Series career. Despite the eight top-five finishes, the Las Vegas, NV native is still uncharacteristically winless in the Cup Series in 2020.
The top-five finish moved Busch from 11th to 10th in the points standings, 93 ahead of the playoff cutoff held by Jimmie Johnson. He is also 201-points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Next stop for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Super Start Batteries at Kansas Speedway.