Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 71 of Saturday’s Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300 and never looked back.
Even when a caution came out with 10 laps to go, Busch and his No. 18 team dominated the restart and was no match for second place finisher Jeff Burton.
Busch’s Toyota Camry was the class of the field, leading four times for 126 of the 200-lap event, after coming up through the field from his 31st starting position.
“The car was awesome from the start and we were just able to pick our way through the field and come up towards the front,” Busch said.
Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag at the O'Reilly 300, a Nationwide Series event at Texas Motor Speedway.
But he’s been here before. He’s had a lot of success, having already won in all three of NASCAR’s national touring divisions, but he’s also had a few races slip by him this year, and all week Busch has joked about his ability to finish in second, but not seal the deal. A win at Texas has been a long time coming.
“When I was driving through the field and [crew chief Jason Ratcliff] was rattling off lap times, I was thinking ‘there’s no way we’re four-tenths, three-tenths quicker than the leader,’” Busch said. “When we finally did end up taking the lead, I thought in my head, this is too good to be true, it’s just one of those days, I could feel it, I knew it.”
The average race speed was 151.707 mph, thanks to only four cautions that took only 13 laps. It’s the fastest Nationwide Series event at TMS, and nearly four minutes faster than the previous record set in the fall of 2006. But fast doesn’t always mean exciting.
Third place finisher Clint Bowyer said for him, the race was “boring.”
“We were too loose and got it too tight and just kind of bounced back and forth and it was very hard to pass and we were just kinda riding around,” Bowyer said. “The race spread out quite a bit and for us we were just riding around we never really were around very many cars.”
This year, NASCAR mandated a new configuration for Nationwide Series car engines to make them more durable, but the trade-off is about 80 horsepower. Burton said the cars were underpowered.
“We all like the bigger engine better,” he said. “They were more fun to drive they way they used to be.”
Busch said the engines lack of power makes momentum going into the corners crucial to getting around the track, but makes driving the cars side by side difficult. When the race had multiple long green flag runs, driving the car became monotonous.
“When you get into a long run like that you keep being able to do the same thing, you turn the wheel, step on the gas, you drive off the corner,” Busch said. “There’s no chasing the [other] car, there’s no driving the car.”