Texas Motor Speedway

Busch’s attempt at TMS weekend sweep derailed as he settles for 10th place in Cup race

Kyle Busch hoped to sweep the weekend by winning the NASCAR Monster Energy Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday, March 31, at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Kyle Busch hoped to sweep the weekend by winning the NASCAR Monster Energy Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday, March 31, at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Special to the Star-Telegram

The third time wasn’t the charm for Kyle Busch on Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch, who twice before has won the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race and the Xfinity Series race at TMS only to see his chance at a weekend sweep end on Sunday, suffered the same fate once again Sunday as he finished 10th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in his bid to sweep the weekend.

Busch led a race-high 66 laps Sunday but got loose with just over 60 laps remaining while running first and managed to save the No. 18 Toyota from hitting the wall. He worked his way back up into the top 5 before crashing into the wall on Lap 280 and ending his chance at his third Cup win of the year.

“It just broke loose,” said Busch, who missed out on chances to sweep at TMS in 2009 and 2014. “I could kind of feel it getting freer as we were going and you’re still trying to hustle and get all you can through the corners to keep your lap time going.

“It busted loose on me and I had to catch it and make sure we didn’t crash. I got back in line and got rolling. The looseness was still there. I had to catch it on exit of 2 there trying to chase down the 10 and knocked the fence down. I hate it for my guys.”

The 10th-place finish was the worst Cup showing for Busch this year. He still leads the Cup standings by eight points over Sunday’s winner Denny Hamlin.

Strong showing for JJ

Polesitter Jimmie Johnson go the kind of boost the seven-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway needed with his fifth-place showing Sunday.

Johnson led 60 laps, which is more than he led combined in 2018 and 2019 entered Sunday. He led the first 59 laps of the race and his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was strong throughout.

The finish was huge for Johnson, who had just two top-10 finishes this year and was 24th last weekend in Martinsville.

“It’s great to be back in the mix,” Johnson said. “That’s where this team deserves to be. I hope everybody at Hendrick Motorsports is smiling big right now. We still have more work to do. It’s just a big step in the right direction for us.”

Weird day for Logano

Joey Logano was still trying to figure out what happened with his No. 22 after he finished 17th Sunday.

Logano, who led eight laps early, finished a lap down after pitting because he was afraid the hood on his car was going to come off.

“Something came apart in the bracing under the hood I believe,” said Logano. “The hood was going to blow off the car. I never got the caution. It really altered the handling. We won a stage. I’m proud of the speed in the car. It was capable of winning the race.”

Logano did win the first stage before a pit penalty pushed him back in the pack in the second stage. He then had to pit while the pits were closed under caution to deal with the hood issue.

Beauty in the eye of beholder

Most drivers would have been happy with the eighth-place showing Kevin Harvick had.

That wasn’t the case for the defending spring champion at TMS.

“Our day was a disaster,” Harvick said. “Our car drove terrible and that pretty much sums it up.”

Harvick, who won eight times last year, is winless in seven 2019 starts. He started 21st. He started the second stage in the fourth spot but was never a contender to win.

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