Texas Race Report
A long day of rain Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway postponed the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 to Monday. Although there was no rain today, the moisture left over still played a role with the race starting under caution for the opening 10 laps to help dry out any remaining damp spots on the 1.5-mile oval. NASCAR also scheduled a competition caution so teams could check tire wear with the track having been washed clean of any tire rubber build up over the weekend.
When the 500 miles had been completed it was Kyle Busch leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish, while Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag in seventh and Denny Hamlin earned a 13th-place finish.
Busch qualified his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in 29th position and was able to race his way into the top 20 prior to a competition caution on lap 48. He would restart 17th on lap 54 and used an aggressive restart to move into the top 15 and then entered the top ten for the first time just a dozen laps later. By lap 90 Busch had moved his No. 18 Camry into the seventh position. He was able to continue his climb forward and was in the top five and running third when he made a green flag pit stop on lap 141. Once the field cycled through he would find himself in the lead on lap 144. He would hold the lead for 10 laps before giving way to the 24 car and then continued to run second through the halfway point of the race. Busch would line up third for a restart on lap 184. He would run fourth on the ensuing green flag run and lined up third for another restart following a round of pit stops on lap 227. Busch would settle back into the fourth position once again until the next caution came out with 80 laps to go. He would line up fifth for the restart with 74 laps remaining. Busch was unable to gain any ground and once the field cycled through following a round of green flag pit stops he was running fourth with 30 to go. He would manage to gain one more spot to run third when a caution came out just prior to the white flag. Crew chief Dave Rogers would make the call for four fresh tires and the Interstate Batteries Camry would come off pit road fifth for a green-white-checker finish after two teams made a call to take just two tires. A pit road speeding penalty on the 2 car would allow Busch to gain an additional spot prior to the restart and he lined up on the outside of the second row in fourth. He would use an aggressive move to the bottom of the track on the final lap to earn a strong third-place finish.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 26th and battled an ill-handling racecar through the early portion of the race gaining a couple of spots to run 24th when a competition caution came out following lap 48. He would restart 22nd on lap 54. Unfortunately his No. 20 Camry proved difficult to turn in the corners and he would drop back several positions following the restart before settling in to run 23rd. Things would improve for Kenseth who was able to climb inside the top 20 and ran 15th at lap 125. He continued to patiently make his way forward and was running 10th at the halfway mark. Kenseth would restart 10th on lap 184. He would struggle a bit on the restarts especially when lined up on the outside, but was able to regain the positions lost over the course of the green flag run. He would bring the Dollar General Toyota back down pit road under caution on lap 214 in 11th and was able to gain one spot to restart 10th again on lap 227. Kenseth would hold onto that spot through the next run and then lined up ninth for a restart with 74 to go. Kenseth wasn’t able to gain any ground and was running seventh following a round of green flag pit stops that cycled through with 30 laps remaining. Kenseth was in the eighth position when a caution came out just prior to the leader taking the white flag. He would come down pit road for four tires and lined up eighth for the final restart. Kenseth was able to gain one spot on the final two-lap run and finished seventh.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Office/March of Dimes Toyota from the sixth position and was running eighth when a competition caution came out following lap 48. He would restart seventh on lap 54 and moved into the top five on lap 74. He was running fourth on lap 90. Hamlin, who drove a special March of Dimes paint scheme, continued his march to the front and was in second at lap 100 and then took his first lead of the day on lap 123. He would make a green flag pit stop from the lead on lap 141 but was ruled to be too fast exiting pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty. That put Hamlin back in 16th following the penalty. He was able to climb his way back inside the top 15 to run 13th at the halfway mark. The FedEx crew would gain Hamlin several spots on pit road while under caution allowing him to restart ninth on lap 184. Hamlin would remain ninth through the ensuing green flag run, but his crew did it again while under caution on pit road and the No. 11 car gained three spots and restarted sixth on lap 227. He would fall back one spot on the next run, but once again his team delivered and allowed him to line up sixth yet again for another restart on lap 260. Hamlin was unable to gain any ground and once the field cycled through following a final round of green flag pit stops he was running 10th with 30 to go. A caution just before the leader took the white flag sent the lead lap cars back down pit road for tires and with some teams making the call for just two tires, Hamlin lined up 12th for the restart. The outside lane proved problematic for restarts much of the afternoon and Hamlin was unable to gain any spots over the final two lap run. He would go on to finish 13th.
Joey Logano won the race followed by Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 49 laps and 18 lead changes among nine different drivers. The race was extended six laps for a green-white-checkered finish.