Published April 13, 2013
Kyle Busch’s decision to return to Joe Gibbs Racing cars in the Nationwide Series for this season is looking better and better every week.
Kyle Busch outran Brad Keselowski over the closing miles and won Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway with relative ease, scoring his third straight Nationwide win by 2.27 seconds.
RESULTS O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
Busch, who also won the pole Friday for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race, won for the fourth time this year in the Nationwide Series. Busch thus becomes the first driver in series history to win four of the season’s first six events.
Following in the top five were Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick. In the second five were Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Justin Allgaier.
Busch led 91 laps, while no one else led more than 33. He dominated the closing portion of the race.
Teams tried numerous tire strategies during the race, although caution flags put everyone more or less on the same tire setup in the final miles.
“It certainly doesn’t come easy, but these guys at Joe Gibbs Racing make it seem that way,” Busch said. “We unloaded pretty well and kept working on the race car through practice. We made some smart changes throughout practice.
PHOTOS NNS: Texas Race Gallery
“Adam (crew chief Adam Stevens) made some phenomenal race calls there and got us some adjustments that gave me some speed. We continued to gain speed each and every run. Through the middle part of the race the tire strategy deal was worrying us a little, but the cautions all fell nicely for us, and we were able to get our strategy back into play.
“I had a real fast car there at the end of the race. It was a pleasure to drive.”
The night turned dark for series point leader Sam Hornish Jr. with 59 laps to go when he and Jeremy Clements crashed, sending both of their cars into the outside wall. Both slid to the inside of the track and hit each other again.
Hornish’s car sustained significant right-side damage, and he returned to his pit numerous times for the crew to make repairs. Hornish drove the car to the garage with 44 laps to go, eventually finishing 34th.
PHOTOS NNS: Kyle Busch Wins
The evening ended a strong seasonal start for Hornish, who had finishes of second, seventh, first, fourth and second entering the Texas event. Hornish kept the point lead, although his advantage was cut from 28 points to two (over Regan Smith).
“As long as we keep putting together cars like this and run like we did the first three-quarters of the race, we’re going to have a shot at it,” Hornish said.
Newcomer Kyle Larson had a misadventure near the race’s one-quarter mark.
VIDEO Kyle Larson Avoids Disaster
He slid rolling into the frontstretch and then spun. Several other drivers almost hit him before he straightened his car and drove to the pits.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. After a two-tire change, Larson lost a tire as he roared down the backstretch under caution. His car veered to the inside of the track, and Larson barely missed colliding with a safety track as he hit the wall, sustaining left-front damage.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.