Regulars in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series are closing the gap on all-time race-winner Kyle Busch. But not enough to prevent “Rowdy” from scoring his fourth consecutive victory during Friday night’s Vankor 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch, driver of the No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, was pressed by series regular Stewart Friesen over the final 23 laps around TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval before recording his record 55th win. Busch, the owner/driver of Kyle Busch Motorsports, finished 1.269-seconds in front of Friesen after 147 laps/220.5 miles. Friesen, driver of the No. 52 Halmar International Chevrolet Silverado, finished second for the fifth time in his NGOTS career. The native Canadian exited Texas still looking for his first Truck Series victory.
“The No. 52 was really fast and on our tailgate until he got heated up, and I was fortunate to keep the Cessna Tundra up-front,” said Busch, who won his previous three 2019 series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. “I don’t know … we lacked a bit of overall speed and guys were able to keep up with us too much. That means we’ve got to work harder to get faster.”
Busch’s victory on AMS’ 1.5-mile oval, a sister track to TMS, broke a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. at 51 for the all-time lead.Johnny Sauter, the 2016 series champion, finished third followed by two-time series champ and GMS Racing teammate Matt Crafton, Tyler Ankrum, Ross Chastain, Tyler Dippel, Brennan Poole and Ben Rhodes.
The race was red-flagged for 15 minutes, 51 seconds in Stage 2 on Lap 52 following Anthony Alfredo’s spin and fiery crash into the Turn 2 wall. Alfredo, 19-year-old driver of the No. 54 Ceco Building Systems/Friends of Jaclyn Toyota, was racing Friesen’s Chevrolet when his Tundra broke loose and spun, igniting flames and prompting the stoppage.
Busch’s lead at that point was 0.708-seconds over Crafton, the NGOTS champion in 2013-14. Those two held serve to the checkered flag on Lap 70 at the end of Stage 2. “I had a couple of moments where I about busted my butt,” said Busch, referring to the conditions that despite the ample application of PJ1 traction compound by series officials led to an early-race spate of yellow flag periods and the red flag stoppage.
Busch and Crafton were followed by Rhodes, Chastain, Friesen, reigning series champion Brett Moffitt, Grant Enfinger, Bubba Wallace, Poole and Ankrum.
Enfinger, who qualified on pole at 187.350 mph in the No. 98 Champion Power Equipment/Curb Records Ford, took the checkered flag on Lap 35 at the end of Stage 1. Also scoring points were Rhodes, Friesen, Sheldon Creed, Austin Hill, Moffitt, Ankrum, Busch, Sauter and Jordan Anderson