Camry driver Kyle Busch (first) captured the checkered flag in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch became the first driver in series history to win four of the season’s first six races. He also won races at Phoenix, Bristol and California earlier this year.
The Las Vegas-native led the field five times for 91 laps (of 200) at the 1.5-mile race track. Toyota drivers Matt Kenseth (sixth) and Brian Vickers (ninth) also finished in the top-10 at Texas.
Camry driver Alex Bowman earned his first career pole and led four laps before finishing 14th on Friday night.
Other Camry drivers in Friday night’s race included Parker Kligerman (12th), Elliott Sadler (13th), Joe Nemechek (19th), Mike Bliss (20th) Blake Koch (24th), Eric McClure (30th), Hal Martin (38th) and Jeff Green (40th).
Four Toyota drivers are in the top-10 of the unofficial NNS point standings — Kligerman (sixth), Sadler (seventh), Bowman (eighth) and Vickers (ninth).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing | Finishing position: 1st
Photo- Getty Images
Why are you so successful at Texas Motor Speedway in the Nationwide Series? “It’s fast, man. It just suits right into my style. I love going out here and it’s just a fun race. You get to race against all the guys you’re going to race against tomorrow night, but you get to beat them here on Friday night. It’s also being a part of this JGR team. The Monster Energy Camry was flawless today. I can’t say enough about Toyota and JGR Engines and Nationwide Insurance — it’s always fun to get to victory lane for those guys in their series here. Of course the fans, we appreciate their support. I love running Texas and most importantly, I love winning here, that’s the best part of it, the best of it and of course celebrating with some Monster Energy.”
How was your race? “It was a tough race, you know. It was a good race, but we had to work ourselves to have a better race car there through about half the race. Brad (Keselowski) was strong and so was Sam (Hornish Jr.), and it just kind of played into our favor there through some of the pit stops and pit strategy. At one time I thought I was fading way too fast and I was like, ‘Man these tires are terrible.’ But, we had to save them and wait in order to put on our fresh tires in the middle part of the race. This Monster Energy Camry was awesome today. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and these guys do such a great job. Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and the engines, Toyota and their support and of course Nationwide Insurance and the fans for being here today. Hopefully, we can back this up with another one tomorrow.”
How does it feel to win another cowboy hat at Texas? “It feels really good. I love the cowboy hats. There’s nothing like it. Bringing them home on a Saturday — which tonight is Friday night — but in the Saturday car I should say. We want to be able to back that up with a win in the Cup car, too and be able to put Interstate Batteries in victory lane tomorrow.”
ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How important were tires in the race? “It got a little messed up there pretty early. Typically we don’t get a lot of cautions early in the race here and we did. Nationwide Series with only five sets of tires to run the race, at a track like this where tires mean so much, if you get a lot of cautions, you’re inevitably going to get mixed strategies. That happened and it was starting to get a little bit hairy. When you get those quick cautions after you get tires on, it kind of negates your advantage and vice-versa. We had to take our turn and go to the back. Kyle (Busch) and (Tony) Hirschman, our spotter, did a good job of keeping the fenders on it and we all realized what exactly we had. Kyle stayed really patient and made sure we had something to race with at the end. When the cautions came back to us there, we were in our window, but only by a few laps and we decided to stay out, banking on there were going to be some more cautions. A couple guys came down and topped off and the big worry then was it was going to go green and then we wouldn’t be sitting here anymore. History said we would get some and we did. We got one, and we only needed one. We got our tires on and that washed everything out and everybody was back even again. I think we did, as a team, setting up for the end of the race and keeping that in mind even before we got here and not over adjusting when it wasn’t quite right early in the race. Kyle did a phenomenal job managing what he had and keeping his head on his shoulders and making sure we had something to race with at the end.”
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing | Finishing Position: 9th
How was your race? “Today we were loose in the long run. We had some runs where we were really fast, and right there with the 22 (Brad Keselowski) and 54 (Kyle Busch) and then we got back in traffic and were a little bit loose. The guys did a good job, we just missed it today. I thought we had a good car at the end, we were just stuck back in traffic. The whole tire cycle thing is really interesting with how the whole race played out — then we just got really loose. The Dollar General guys did great. Thanks for all their support. It was a hard fought night — a good solid night. A little disappointed because I thought we were going to be a challenge for the win.”
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 77 Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports | Finishing Position: 12th
What was your race like tonight? “We had a good qualifying effort in our Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry. We got in the race really optimistic that we had a great piece and Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and I were just caught off guard. We just suddenly were really loose and to the point that we were wrecking-loose for the first three-quarters of the race. We thought we had something broken. It was so bad. We had a similar track bar mount come apart at Las Vegas and it felt similar — and it was this same car. I thought it was the same thing. It turned out not to be and we just worked at it and grinded it out, and had good pit stops, and just grinded and grinded it out and came out with a 12th. I’m proud of that because if we can take a day like this where we really had a 25th-place at one point and get out of here almost in the top-10 – I’m proud of these guys. That’s what wins championships.”
ALEX BOWMAN, No. 99 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Toyota Camry, RAB Racing | Finishing Position: 14th
How was your race? “We had a solid night. The car was really good. Probably should have run fourth. I kept Chris (Rice, crew chief) from freeing us up there at the end because we freed it up earlier and went backwards. It got just way too tight. It is what it is. Everybody at RAB Racing, Chris Rice – everybody did a good job. It was good to get SchoolTipLine.com a decent finish. Wish we would have been a little further up there. They knew we were here tonight.”
Are you learning something new every race? “Yes. I think racing with those guys (at the start) was cool. We were the same speed as them until the last stop. Just really frustrated that I told Chris (Rice) not to free it up. It was my call and it was the wrong one. I learned from that and I won’t make that call again.”