NASCAR & Auto Racing

Five biggest takeaways from the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

Kyle Busch (18) pumps his fist in victory as he goes to retrieve the checkered flag after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX April 8, 2018.
Kyle Busch (18) pumps his fist in victory as he goes to retrieve the checkered flag after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX April 8, 2018.

What a race.

On Sunday, Kyle Busch held off a hard comeback push from the red-hot Kevin Harvick to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It was first win this season, his third at the 1.5-mile track and the 44th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

Thanks to this victory, Busch now occupies first place in the Cup standings.

But on this April afternoon, drivers and their crews had to overcome car issues, pit row problems and a big wreck. Everyone at the track also had to deal with unusually cold temperatures.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from Sunday's race:

The wreck

What transpired at the start of Stage 3 near Turn Four during lap 177 had a major impact on the outcome of the race.

It all started when Denny Hamlin lost control of his car and bumped into Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing. Almirola's car ran into the outside wall. Hamlin tried to ride up to the bank and stabilize his car, but he wound up wrecking Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski and several other drivers.

By the the end of the sequence, Almirola, Johnson, Keselowski, as well as Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, and David Ragan, were out of the race.

While the race was still going on, Hamlin took full responsibility for what happened. After the dust settled, most of the drivers involved expressed varying degrees of frustration. Those feelings weren't really directed at Hamlin as much as at the general outcome of the situation.

Harvick comes up just short

Harvick won straight three races from Feb. 25 through Mar. 11 and sounded confident talking to the media on Friday. He started this race in the 2nd position and led 73 of the first 85 laps en route to winning Stage 1.

Harvick fell out of the top 10 due to car troubles and pit crew issues, but managed climb all the way back up to second place for the race's final laps. In the end, though, circumstances added up and cost him a chance to claim his fourth victory of the season.

Larson's rough afternoon

Before the race, Kyle Larson's car was penalized and dropped from the 10th position to the back of the field because it failed three pre-race inspections. It ultimately passed on the fourth attempt, but Larson's car chief, David Bryant, was ejected from the race before it even started.

Then, on Turn 2 of Lap 126, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver blew his front-right tire and experienced a scary crash that lit his car on fire up near the wall.

Larson was able to get out of the car and head to the medical tent, where he was cleared by members of the medical staff.

Weather conditions

Springtime in Texas usually provides pleasant weather, but on Sunday, fans bundled up to battle opening-race temperatures in the mid-40's. As the afternoon shifted to the evening, the temperature did climb up between the low- to mid-50s. But the cold conditions made for a faster 1.5-mile short-track and less familiar pit stops for the crews.

Johnson's disappointing finish

Historically, Jimmie Johnson has been positively dominant at TMS, having won a track-record seven Cup wins. His last victory at this track was a year go, and his last Cup victory occurred last June at Dover International Speedway.

On Sunday, Johnson began the day in the 9th position, but was knocked out of the race after he was wrecked out on Turn Four of Lap 177.

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