Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Kyle Busch cruising with consecutive weekend sweeps

FORT WORTH, Texas — Four races in NASCAR's top three series over eight days — and Kyle Busch won them all.

From Martinsville to Texas, Busch had consecutive weekend sweeps, something last done in NASCAR 25 years ago.

"I think the magic is Kyle Busch, but that's just me," Busch said with a smile before looking to car owner Joe Gibbs, who started laughing and told the No. 18 Toyota driver to not freak out on him.

"I'd admit I think it's everything," Busch then said. "You've got to have all the pieces of the puzzle put together, but I think more importantly we've got good cars, but the crew chiefs are just doing a really good job right now."

Plus, the defending Sprint Cup champion can win races in whatever he drives. Busch, 30, has 36 Sprint Cup victories, a record 80 in the Xfinity series and 45 more in the NASCAR truck series.

Along with his second consecutive Cup victory, taking the checkered flag just after midnight Sunday, his Texas two-step included winning for the fourth time in his five Xfinity starts of 2016. His sweep at Martinsville was a trucks victory and the Cup race.

"The guy is good. He's got a great team behind him, and they put themselves in position at the end," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., the runnerup in the first Cup night race this season. "I ain't surprised by any means."

Busch also clinched a spot in the Chase for the Championship, where he will have a chance to defend the title he won for the first time last season.

The next Sprint Cup and Xfinity races are at Bristol, where Busch swept all three national series races in the same weekend in August 2010. The trucks don't race again until May 6.

Harry Gant had consecutive weekend sweeps at Richmond and Dover in 1991, in a stretch when he won four straight Cup races at age 51. It was Busch's second weekend sweep at Texas; he also did it in spring 2013.

Busch, now the points leader, led only 34 of 334 laps in the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 on Saturday night — one lap in the middle of the race and the last 33 after a 13-car incident for the final caution.

On Lap 302, the first after the final restart, Busch went high through Turn 4 to pass Martin Truex, who led six times for 141 laps before finishing sixth at the high-banked, 11/2-mile Texas track. Busch stayed ahead and went on to beat Earnhardt by nearly four seconds.

Truex and Austin Dillon, whose spin triggered the backstretch melee, had stayed out during a caution only a few laps before that when everyone else went to pit road to get fresh tires.

"When the race restarted for the final time, we just didn't have the grip everybody else had," Truex said. "We were just sliding around."

Busch won his seventh Cup race in 32 starts since returning last year from a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a broken left foot sustained in a crash in the 2015 season-opening Xfinity race at Daytona.

"I think that it's just a part of everyone coming together. It's a part of the whole team," he said. "It's not just me. It's not just (wife) Samantha, but it's (crew chief) Adam Stevens, it's coach Gibbs, it's the organization and everyone rallying around us. It's my medical team, everyone that helped me."

East Bay Raceway: Mark Whitener won the 50-lap Scott Thompson Memorial for Late Models late Saturday in Gibsonton.

Motorcycles: Marc Marquez grabbed an early lead and coasted to his fourth straight win at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, his 26th career MotoGP victory.

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