After five-race hiatus, Kyle Busch returns to Victory Lane in TMS Nationwide race

Posted Friday, Apr. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Race breakdown Why Kyle Busch won: He’s been the most dominant Nationwide driver in TMS history. He now holds the track record for most wins (6), most poles (3), most laps led (1,343). Impressive starts: Austin Dillon has made only three Nationwide starts at TMS, and has finished sixth-or-better every time. He had his best run to date with a third-place finish. Larson avoids trouble: Kyle Larson spun out of control early on and slid on the inside of a work truck on the backstretch. He finished 32nd, 10 laps down. Rough debut: Travis Pastrana didn’t turn too many heads in his first Nationwide race at TMS. He headed to the garage on Lap 127, but returned and finished 33rd, 14 laps down. No double dip: Kevin Harvick won the Nationwide race last fall, but came in fifth. And defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. didn’t run in it, as he has graduated to a full-time Cup ride. Out front: Friday’s race had the most leaders and the most lead changes of any Nationwide race at TMS. The 11 leaders broke the previous mark of 10 and the 22 lead changes surpassed the 17, both set in the spring of 2005.

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Kyle Busch found himself back in familiar territory Friday night.

Texas Motor Speedway had held five Nationwide races since Busch rattled off five consecutive victories, but he reclaimed his spot in Victory Lane.

Busch led a race-high 91 laps, and cruised to the checkered flag in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. It was Busch’s sixth career Nationwide win in 15 career starts at the track, meaning he has won more than a third of the races he’s entered.

“It certainly doesn’t come easy, but these guys from Joe Gibbs Racing make it seem that way,” Busch said. “Real fast car at the end of the race, it was a pleasure to drive. It felt good to win.”

The race itself didn’t gain fluidity until the end. The longest green-flag stretch was 24 laps until the final 28 laps were run with no cautions.

But the night belonged to Busch, who holds just about every significant Nationwide record in track history. Nobody has more wins (6), poles (3) or laps led (1,343) than him. Busch is also tied for second with most top-10 finishes (13).

Busch went through the most dominant stretch at the track of any driver. He won five consecutive races from the spring of 2008 to the spring of 2010. That streak came to an end in the fall of 2010 when he was runner-up to Carl Edwards.

Has it felt like five races have past since Busch took the checkered flag?

“Yeah, I certainly thought I could’ve made it six in a row but some restarts screwed that race up toward the end,” Busch said. “It was tough to see the streak end that day, but it’s cool to see us back here in Victory Lane. Today feels good.”

The win at TMS doesn’t come as a surprise given Busch’s history or start to the season. He has won four of the first six Nationwide races this season, the first driver in history to accomplish that feat.

Brad Keselowski has seen Busch’s dominance first-hand, and saw it once again. Keselowski finished second, and remains winless in 13 Nationwide races at TMS.

“Just came up a little bit short of beating Kyle,” Keselowski said. “Kyle is really strong. You put an elite drive in an elite car, you should get elite results. And that’s what you’re seeing.”

While Busch celebrated his victory, it was a difficult race to swallow for series points leader Sam Hornish Jr.

Hornish went into the race as one of the hottest drivers on the second-tier circuit, but he ran into trouble with 59 laps left when he was running in the back of the pack.

Hornish, who led the race for 29 laps early, made contact with Jeremy Clements coming out of Turn 4 and slid through the front-stretch grass. He initially stayed on the lead lap, but a flat tire eventually sacked his chances.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened,” said Hornish, who had finished seventh-or-better the first five races.

“But, at the end of the day, we need to keep ourselves toward the front.”

Hornish settled for 34th, his worst finish in seven Nationwide races at the track. But he still had his points lead when it was over, although it had shrunk to two.

Rookie Alex Bowman won his first Nationwide pole earlier in the day, but never threatened. The 19-year-old was battling a flu bug and finished 14th.

Bowman wasn’t the only driver under the weather. Eric McClure, driving the No. 14 Toyota, got out of his car on Lap 29 because of sickness.

Jeff Green, driver of the No. 10 Toyota who had already parked his originally car, took McClure’s seat in the 14 and came in 30th.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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