FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Truck Series race at Texas on Saturday night, getting the victory in his second race of the day after a postrace disqualification took away an apparent Xfinity Series win.
“Technically, I haven’t won yet, so put it over the sticks,” Busch quipped when he got out of his truck at the start-finish line to gather another checkered flag after the nightcap race.
Busch’s truck victory did stand, one when he retook the lead after a somewhat chaotic final green-flag stop with 36 laps to go. He had to slam his brakes on entry to pit road to avoid a penalty, then almost pulled into the wrong pit stall. He initially veered toward the No. 18 markers — the number of his Cup car — instead of the box a few yards further ahead for the No. 51 Toyota truck he was driving.
It was a 1-2 finish for Busch’s team, with the veteran finishing 0.777 seconds in front of 19-year-old rookie Christian Eckes, the driver of that No. 18 Toyota that Busch owns.
The victory was the 212th for Busch in NASCAR’s top three series, one he thought ad earlier in the Xfinity race. After finishing nearly a second ahead of Austin Cindric, the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Toyota failed postrace inspection because the left rear was too low. Cindric was declared the winner of that race, his third Xfinity win in a row.
“It’s bothersome. … We come out here and race, and run hard and score a win and then it gets taken away from you, and it sucks because it was nothing we did,” Busch said about the earlier decision that took away another victory. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Busch got his 59th career win in 155 Truck Series starts. He still has 97 Xfinity wins, to go along with 56 Cup Series wins.
Within laps after that final pit stop, Busch had already built a three-second lead over Eckes.
“I saw the 18 box and thought my number was 18 so I turned in,” Busch said of that final stop.
Busch had extended his lead to more than four seconds before Todd Gilliland and Ben Rhodes made contact on the backstretch with 15 laps left to bring out a caution.
Eckes went side-by-side with Busch for several laps after the final restart before Busch shot by the rookie for good with eight laps left in the 167-lap race at the 1 1/2-mile track.
Busch led five times for 72 laps. Eckes led four times for 52 laps.
“Man, I wish Kyle picked a different race to go to,” Eckes said. “We battled hard and it was really fun to go toe-to-toe with the best. … Trying to figure out how to pass him., he’s really hard to pass. Run behind him and he’s moving all around. We’ll go back to the lab and try to get better.”
Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen and Brett Moffitt, the stage two winner, rounded out the top five.
It was a hot night for Crafton, was racing without a cool fan in the truck after the first lap because of an alternator issue that forced his team to change the battery in the No. 88 Ford after the first stage.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports