Kyle Busch boosted his NASCAR record Xfinity Series win total with a 99th career victory in Saturday afternoon’s Alsco Uniform 250 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion held off veteran series regular Justin Allgaier by a mere .433-seconds in overtime to earn his second series win in as many races this year.
Busch led the last 32 laps but had to negotiate three late restarts including the last in overtime. It technically marked his second victory of the day as John Hunter Nemechek won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in a truck owned by Busch.
“Just being with a great group of guys and Joe Gibbs Racing is pretty awesome to drive to drive these Toyota Supras here in the Xfinity Series,’’ Busch said after an extended victory burnout the crowd enjoyed from the series all-time winningest driver.
“All in all, such a good car,’’ Busch added, noting he thought Allgaier’s No. 7 JR Motorsport Chevrolet was just as good as his Toyota on Saturday.
“I was just able to think through a few things there on a couple restarts that may or may not work but there at the end they did.’’
Busch, who led a race best 94 of the 171 laps, noted the good pushes from behind he got on the restarts from the current Xfinity Series championship leader Austin Cindric, who finished third. The two driver each won a stage.
At the end of the day, Busch is hopeful the lessons he learned Saturday and the good outcome he enjoyed will be beneficial in Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series All Star Race at the track.
It’s Busch’s 10th overall Xfinity Series win on the 1.5-mile Texas high banks, where he also has four NASCAR Cup Series and five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories. The trophy on Saturday marks the 300th win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity and Cup ranks.
Just behind Allgaier and Cindric at the checkered flag were Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones rounding out the Top-5. A.J. Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Brett Moffitt, Justin Haley and Michael Annett completed the Top-10.
The Top-10 was especially significant for Gragson, driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. His work at Texas from a 30th place start to seventh place finish was a solid rebound from a series of rough outings. He was running as high as fourth when he spun his tires on the next to last race restart. His seventh-place work halts a streak of three consecutive DNFs.
The series next race is the Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Cindric’s third place effort is his 10thTop-5 effort in 14 races gives him a commanding 108-point advantage over Allmendinger in the championship standings.
By Holly Cain
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Twix Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How do you win at Texas time and time again?
“Just being with a great group of guys and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, it’s pretty awesome to drive these Toyota Supras here in the Xfinity Series. Thank Twix, M&M’s, Rowdy Energy for keeping me hydrated, it’s hot out here. Going to need to get a little more of that here before tomorrow. All in all, just such a good car. I wouldn’t say it was a great car because (Justin) Allgaier was maybe just as good as us if not better. I was just able to think through a few things there on a couple restarts that may or may not have worked. There at the end, it really did. Thanks to Austin Cindric as well too, good teammate kind of today in helping. With this thing you always have to rely on the row behind you and you can’t do it on your own anymore. He had some help for us on those restarts for sure.”
What does it say to you to know you have 99 NXS wins and 10 wins at Texas Motor Speedway?
“10 percent, almost. It feels really good obviously. Driving these Toyota Supras from Joe Gibbs Racing and thanks to Twix and M&M’s, Interstate Batteries – their hometown, Rowdy Energy keeping me hydrated. We’re going to need more of that for later on tonight and tomorrow. Just good stuff. Chris Gayle (crew chief) and the guys did a great job. Pit crew was good today and the car was good, it wasn’t great. The 7 (Justin Allgaier) was really good, he was right there with us and he put up a hell of a fight there at the end through some of those restarts. We were able to get ahead of him there and control the rest of the way. Thanks to the 22 (Austin Cindric), he did a great job of helping me out and you can’t win these things on your own from the front row anymore it seems. You have to rely on what’s behind you and the rows behind you to help you. He did that and got us out front. Just want to say thanks to Rowdy Nation for coming out here, supporting us here today and looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully being able to bring home a million bucks.”
What were some of those restarts like toward the end of the race? Were they nerve-wracking?
“Yeah, a little bit. For as close as the 7 (Justin Allgaier) was, he was too close. Our cars were really equal and he did a good job with what he had. Finally, I was just able to prevail on one of those restarts. I just kept trying to think of things that I could do and it was really hard to do because his car was really good. We were just able to get ahead there and control it the rest of the way.”
Are you still planning to retire after you win your 100th NXS race?
“So here’s the problem, Joe (Gibbs) already sold me for 2022 so I don’t know. We’re going to have to talk about that. I better get a pay raise, that’s for sure. Racing for free ain’t fun no more, I’m just kidding.”
What did you learn from the traction compound today that could be in play tomorrow?
“I don’t know what’s going on with it, but it was getting kind of clumpy out there so it was rubbering up and putting rubber on the surface. Not necessarily using the grip and widening the surface out to go search for more grip. It was putting the rubber on top so you were now shallowing back down and not running in it. I don’t really know what that is for tomorrow. It’s the same tire, the Xfinity cars ran the same tire today that I believe we’re on tomorrow. The Cup cars here last time had a really bad problem of putting that rubber down similar to that and it balling up like that in turns three and four. Not in one and two and today it was worse in three and four, but also in one and two.”
How do you heat train to prepare for these hot conditions?
“Just normal training. Actually, I hate heat training. Some of the guys like (Daniel) Hemric and Harrison (Burton), the Toyota guys, we do have a heat room and they train in the heat room and I’ve never been in that thing. I absolutely can’t bear it. Just normal workouts and getting in better physical health and having the ability to withstand some of those hotter races and then this cool shirt device, I just started wearing it a little bit last year and a little bit more this year. It’s been super helpful on the hot ones and being able to keep you a little bit cooler in the car.”
What does today mean with John Hunter Nemechek winning in your truck earlier in the afternoon?
“It’s awesome, it’s really good. I feel like KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) is on the right path and on the right track to be a force to be reckoned with. John Hunter is week in, week out running up front and doing good things, winning stages, leading laps and winning races. That’s awesome. Excited for him and Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and everybody at KBM to showcase what we’ve got. For myself here today, I wasn’t going to say it was easy sailing, but there at one point I was building a lead and I was like, ‘oh well, alright, this is going to be pretty easy.’ Then there at the end, (Justin) Allgaier got there and got to the front and then it was a race. He was kind of hard to hold off there for a few times. Luckily, we got a couple cautions there where I was able to kind of regroup and rethink and do something to try to get by him. We were so equal, I felt like if either of us was out front, barring something happening with lapped traffic, that was going to be who goes on to win.”
What becomes important on late-race restarts, lane choice or who lines up behind you?
“It’s definitely the person pushing you. Why did I take the inside would be the next question. I don’t know. I felt like depending on who was behind you and who was going to push you was kind of how things were going to go. Being in my position, it’s kind of hard to rely on anybody in that stance, but you have to. It just kind of became the 22 (Austin Cindric) car there those last couple. Certainly, he was the car that I needed behind me in order to get the job done. He did a good job. I wouldn’t say, I think he did all he could pushing me. We got loose a couple times. I was spinning my tires kind of on one of those restarts, but we were able to hold it straight so that was good.”
Where did the bow come from and what did you think of John Hunter Nemechek using it in his celebration?
“The bow came from a long, long time ago. I’m obviously from Las Vegas, Nevada and there’s a lot of shows out there and every time a show ends, all the performers come out and give a bow to the crowd kind of like a thank you, thanks for coming, whatever. That’s kind of where it came from and I’ve done it for a long, long time. It can be interpreted in different ways if you want, but that’s where it stemmed from. And John Hunter using it, I don’t know. Was it to me or was it to Chase Elliott who did it to me last year who John Hunter beat today? Didn’t think about that one did you?”
How much does the PJ1 differ from track to track and week to week?
“Yes. I don’t know. Charlotte was super, super slick if you got in it. Today was kind of slick to get in it, but it warmed up a little bit there through the truck race and then in the Xfinity race there, it was really fast through the mid-portion of the race. I ripped off some laps that were super-fast at the end of stage two I think. Then it kind of went away after that. Bristol putting it around the bottom, that’s a completely different feeling running through it with your left sides than it is the rights. It’s hard to say, but I kind of feel like we need to find something different. We need to find something that adds grip. Oh I know what adds grip, softer tires, that’s right. We need to find something that adds grip, that wears out, that you can search for more of it and it gives you what you’re looking for. This one here just kind of clumped up here today. I think it’s the tire combination with whatever is going on out there because it did the same thing last year so I’m sure it’s the same mixture. I don’t know if it’s the same mixture as it is at Charlotte. Charlotte it doesn’t clump up. I don’t know if any of that answers your question, but that’s all I know.”
Has the PJ1 ever actually enhanced the product on the race track?
“That’s a great question. I think it makes it a bit more interesting. I think you can definitely look at, I don’t know from a fan’s perspective, but from a driver’s perspective, you have to think, do you want to use it, do you want to get in it, do you want to get in it all the way, do you want to use it with two tires, do you use it on entry, not on exit. I will say yes, Loudon (NH), Loudon I feel it’s a huge benefit. When we all use it there, I think it’s really exciting on restarts, I think it’s really great when it’s fresh. As it wears out, it kind of becomes more dull to the race you’re putting on. It’s kind of like you need to respray halfway through. That would definitely be hard to do.”
- (14) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 171.
- (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 171.
- (4) Austin Cindric, Ford, 171.
- (5) Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 171.
- (3) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 171.
- (1) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 171.
- (30) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 171.
- (19) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 171.
- (2) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 171.
- (6) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 171.
- (9) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 171.
- (12) Riley Herbst, Ford, 171.
- (7) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 171.
- (20) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 171.
- (22) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 171.
- (13) Jade Buford #, Chevrolet, 171.
- (11) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 171.
- (10) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 171.
- (28) Josh Berry #, Chevrolet, 171.
- (31) David Starr, Toyota, 171.
- (36) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 171.
- (38) Ronnie Bassett Jr., Chevrolet, 171.
- (34) Brandon Gdovic, Toyota, 171.
- (15) Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, 171.
- (27) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 171.
- (24) Matt Mills, Toyota, 171.
- (40) Matt Jaskol, Toyota, 168.
- (26) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 167.
- (25) Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 166.
- (18) Harrison Burton, Toyota, Accident, 163.
- (35) Joe Graf Jr, Chevrolet, 162.
- (8) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 159.
- (17) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, Accident, 156.
- (32) Jordan Anderson(i), Chevrolet, 120.
- (37) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, Accident, 110.
- (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 107.
- (29) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 100.
- (23) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
- (21) Tanner Berryhill, Chevrolet, Accident, 88.
- (39) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 0
Average Speed of Race Winner: 107.773 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 22 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.433 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 10 for 52 laps.
Lead Changes: 14 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Allmendinger 1-8;B. Jones 9-24;K. Busch(i) 25-28;A. Cindric 29-42;J. Haley 43;D. Hemric 44-47;K. Busch(i) 48-82;H. Burton 83;K. Busch(i) 84-88;D. Hemric 89-97;K. Busch(i) 98-110;H. Burton 111;K. Busch(i) 112-116;J. Allgaier 117-139;K. Busch(i) 140-171.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch(i) 6 times for 94 laps; Justin Allgaier 1 time for 23 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 16 laps; Austin Cindric 1 time for 14 laps; Daniel Hemric 2 times for 13 laps; AJ Allmendinger 1 time for 8 laps; Harrison Burton 2 times for 2 laps; Justin Haley 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,18,54,19,11,16,7,1,20,9
Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,18,22,20,9,7,16,8,98,1