NASCAR at Texas results, standings: Kyle Busch wins first race of the season

Kyle Busch held off Kevin Harvick and took home the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday to win his first race of the season. Barring inspection, last year's championship runner-up is expected to join Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon in the NASCAR playoffs.

Despite three runner-up finishes in the first six races, we picked Busch to make the trip to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway and he delivered. The victory is Busch's third at the 1.5-mile track and first since Martinsville in October 2017. 

Last year's Texas winner Harvick won Stage 1 rather easily, building more than a 12-second advantage over Truex, who was poised to finish the stage in second before his No. 78 lost a tire and went hard into the wall. Harvick gathered 10 stage points and a playoff point while Truex saw his day come to a close. Kyle Busch finished the stage second followed by Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson to round out the top five.

Kyle Busch took the lead from his brother and pole-starter Kurt Busch late in Stage 2 to take the green-and-white checkered while Harvick and Ryan Blaney suffered setbacks. Larson hit the wall hard, ending his day while Harvick and Blaney had to hit pit road under green due to reports of loose wheels. Both Harvick and Blaney were able to recover and get back on the lead lap rather quickly.

O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 results

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Jamie McMurray
  4. Erik Jones
  5. Ryan Blaney
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  9. Clint Bowyer
  10. William Byron
  11. Chase Elliott
  12. Trevor Bayne
  13. Ty Dillon
  14. Michael McDowell
  15. Chris Buescher
  16. Matt DiBenedetto
  17. Kasey Kahne
  18. Ross Chastain
  19. Cole Whitt
  20. Gray Gaulding
  21. Landon Cassill
  22. Harrison Rhodes
  23. David Ragan
  24. AJ Allmendinger
  25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  26. Austin Dillon
  27. Ryan Newman
  28. Alex Bowman
  29. Daniel Suarez
  30. Paul Menard
  31. Reed Sorenson
  32. Aric Almirola
  33. Brad Keselowski
  34. Denny Hamlin
  35. Jimmie Johnson
  36. Kyle Larson
  37. Martin Truex Jr.

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Standings 

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR #

POINTS

BEHIND

WINS

1.

Kyle Busch

18

316

LEADER

1

2.

Joey Logano

22

278

-38

0

3.

Ryan Blaney

12

265

-51

0

4.

Kevin Harvick

4

257

-59

3

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

78

250

-66

0

6.

Clint Bowyer

14

249

-67

1

7.

Brad Keselowski

2

237

-79

0

8.

Kurt Busch

41

224

-92

0

9.

Denny Hamlin

11

222

-94

0

10.

Kyle Larson

42

202

-114

0

11.

Erik Jones

20

193

-123

0

12.

Aric Almirola

10

177

-139

0

13.

Austin Dillon

3

159

-157

1

14.

Alex Bowman

88

154

-162

0

15.

Chase Elliott

24

148

-168

0

16.

Paul Menard

21

146

-170

0

We encourage you to check out our live blog if you missed any of the action on Sunday. It includes highlights, analysis and reaction from the thriller at Texas. 

Stage 1: Kevin Harvick continues to set the pace

Kevin Harvick immediately took the lead from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and pole starter Kurt Busch on the first lap. Busch was forced to the high side of the track and was beginning to lose position before Alex Bowman went spinning on the third lap to bring out the caution. Bowman collected both Paul Menard and Daniel Suarez who had to come down pit road early to make repairs.

The quick yellow flag didn't deter Harvick who held the lead on the restart began doing what he's been doing all season, building a monster lead over the rest of the field. Martin Truex Jr. began green flag pit stops about 40 laps into the stage, making adjustments while replacing the tires and adding fuel. The rest of the field began to follow shortly after.

Ryan Blaney was running second before the pit stop, but a penalty for an uncontrolled tire set the No. 12 team back a couple laps. Jimmie Johnson also suffered a setback, as he was forced to bring his car back down pit road after reporting a vibration on the No. 48. Denny Hamlin stayed out longer than everyone else in hopes of a caution, but eventually came down pit road from the lead laps later. Unfortunately for the No. 11 team, Hamlin was too fast entering pit road and had to serve a penalty.

When all was said and done, Harvick recycled to the lead and built more than a 10-second advantage over Truex and the others behind him. With five laps to go, Truex lost a tire and went hard into the wall, ending his day at Texas as well as Stage 1.

Stage 1 results

  1. Kevin Harvick (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Kyle Busch (9 points)
  3. Kurt Busch (8 points)
  4. Joey Logano (7 points)
  5. Kyle Larson (6 points)
  6. Clint Bowyer (5 points)
  7. Jamie McMurray (4 points)
  8. Brad Keselowski (3 points)
  9. Chase Elliott (2 points)
  10. Erik Jones (1 point)

Stage 2: Kyle Busch outraces brother Kurt at the end

Kyle Busch ran a faster pit stop under yellow than Harvick between stages and started the second from the lead. Busch held the top position for roughly 30 laps before surrendering the lead back to Harvick. Kyle Larson was having a solid day, running inside the top five after starting from the rear, however that day came to an end midway through Stage 2 when Larson went hard into the wall and totaled his No. 42.  

"What a hit that was," Larson could be heard saying on the radio. 

The wreck occurred around the same time teams were considering green flag pit stops, so most of the field came down for adjustments under yellow. Unfortunately for Harvick's team it appeared a lug nut got stuck and held the No. 4 on pit road, losing eight positions in the process as Kurt Busch reemerged as the race leader.

Downward momentum continued for Harvick when the race returned to green. The No. 4 driver immediately noticed a loose wheel and was forced to bring his Ford back down pit road, losing a lap in the process. Just laps later, Blaney brought his car down pit road for the same issue as the Busch brothers continued to lead.

It appeared Kurt Busch would drive on for the stage win without a challenge but a little sibling rivalry came into play with 5 laps to go. Younger brother Kyle Busch made the pass and drove away from his older brother to take the green-and-white checkered.

Stage 2 results

  1. Kyle Busch (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Kurt Busch (9 points)
  3. Joey Logano (8 points)
  4. Erik Jones (7 points)
  5. Clint Bowyer (6 points)
  6. Chase Elliott (5 points)
  7. Brad Keselowski (4 points)
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3 points)
  9. Denny Hamlin (2 points)
  10. Aric Almirola (1 point)

Final Stage: Kyle Busch holds off Kevin Harvick

Erik Jones won the race off pit road between stages and led the field to green to begin the Final Stage. Not even one lap in, Kyle Busch lost some speed, starting a chain reaction that led to a massive pile up involving Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon.

The wreck was so large that NASCAR officials had to issue the red flag for track cleanup. Hamlin, Johnson, Almirola and Keselowski were forced to retire for the remainder of the race, joining Larson and Truex as stars in the sport not to finish.

Jones led the field to green after the stoppage with just 11 cars on the lead lap. Kurt Busch followed closely behind along with Elliott as Jones set the pace throughout the early portions of the Final Stage. Elliott had to bring his car down pit road with 120 left, just a tick before green flag stops were set to begin, after reports of vibrations.

The rest of the field came down for green flag stops with just over 100 to go in the race. Just as cars were cycling back to the front, Paul Menard brought out the caution, benefitting Harvick and Elliott who stayed out under green. Unfortunately for Harvick, he couldn't capitalize on it as his team was penalized for having too many men over the wall.

Kyle Busch took the lead from his teammate Jones on the restart and began pulling away before Kasey Kahne and Trevor Bayne got into it, bringing out the yellow, while racing for the free pass. 

Busch again took the lead on the restart but this time was challenged by Jamie McMurray in second ahead of Jones in third. Despite adversity left and right, Harvick emerged in the top five with 60 to go in the Final Stage and instantly began challenging for the top spot.

Ryan Newman went hard into the wall after green flag pit stops with 30 laps to go, setting up a showdown between Busch and Harvick for the race win. 

Busch was extremely strong on the restart as Harvick challenged from second. Despite a strong challenge from the No. 4, Busch was able to hold him off en route to his first win of the season.

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