Friday's motors: Kyle Busch wins again in NASCAR Truck Series

Associated Press
Kyle Busch

Fort Worth, Texas — Kyle Busch raced to his fourth straight NASCAR Trucks Series victory Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch pushed his NASCAR-record victory total to 202 and his Truck record to 55.

Busch had plenty of challengers, but still led 97 laps in the No. 51 Toyota, running his four-race total to 473. No other racer had led more than 54 this season. Brent Moffitt led 33 laps before fading to finish 19th.

“I thought we were pretty good,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “Not as good as we wanted to be once we stacked up next to the field. The 24 (Moffitt) was really fast and the 52 (Stewart Friesen) was really fast. They made me work for it.”

Busch began the streak at Atlanta and followed with victories in Las Vegas and Martinsville.

Pole-winner Grant Enfinger won the first stage and finished fourth. Busch won the second stage.

Stewart Friesen was second for the second year in a row in the event, 1.269 seconds behind. It is the fifth time Friesen, the season points leader despite never winning a race, has finished second in his three-year career.

Johnny Sauter, the defending race champion, was third.

Jimmie Johnson claims pole

Jimmie Johnson will start on the pole at Texas, where he is a seven-time winner.

With Johnson leading the way after a final-stage fast lap of 188.890 mph to get his first pole anywhere since 2016, Hendrick Motorsports took the top three qualifying spots Friday. William Bryon was second, and Chase Elliott third.

NASCAR made some tweaks to its group qualifying procedures after all 12 drivers in the final round failed to log an official lap two weeks ago at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in California. Drivers idled on pit road until the final second to attempt their qualifying lap, and they all blew the timing.

There were still some issues in Texas, with Clint Bowyer calling qualifying an “epic failure” after he was 25th. He was upset after the first stage, when he said he was impeded by Ryan Newman trying to get on the track during the first stage and eventually missed the cutoff for the top 24 to get to the second stage.

Then in the 10-minute second stage, and five-minute final stage, most drivers again sat on pit road until late in the clock to hit the track for qualifying laps. Nobody logged more than two laps in either of the last two stages.

“We’re obviously disappointed with what happened,” said Jay Fabian, the director of the Cup Series. “We’re disappointed with what we saw. Nobody deserves to see that. Our fans don’t deserve to see that. We’re going to take whatever steps we have to to clean it up so we don’t have this problem again.”

As for what changes could be made, Fabian said, “Pretty much everything is on the table as far as what we’ll do moving forward.”

Newman had started to move and then shifted behind another car in line on pit row. But the rear of his car stuck out in the middle lane that is supposed to remain clear between cars on either side of that, though NASCAR said afterward that Bowyer had room to get around him.

Daniel Suarez qualified fourth using a strategy different than most. He went out alone on the track for his laps during qualifying.

Johnson, who is 15th in points this season and has a 65-race winless streak, also had the top speeds in practice sessions earlier Friday. It was his first pole since during the season he won the last of his seven Cup championships.

“It’s been a long couple of years, and we still have a ways to go,” Johnson said. “Certainly race day is much more important than Friday, but we’ve been working so hard. … Top of the chart all day long, and a great start for this Ally team. I’m really proud of everybody for keeping the faith and working hard.”

The last time Johnson won the pole at the 1½-mile Texas track was 2012. He won from the pole that day, and has won at Texas five more times since then.