FORT WORTH, Texas — No driver has swept a track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series this season.
Kyle Busch will attempt to become the first as he continues his championship defense in today's Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch enters the race off a fifth-place finish in the Chase for the Championship Round of 8 opener at Martinsville last Sunday and is four points ahead of Joey Logano for the final advancement spot to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20.
He visited Victory Lane in the Texas race in April by speeding away from the field on a restart with 33 laps left to break Jimmie Johnson's three-race winning streak at the 1½-mile track. A win today means an automatic berth in the Championship 4 and a chance for a repeat championship.
"I had some wild races (at Texas) early on in my career, and it wasn't one of my favorite places, for whatever reason," Busch said. "Things have gone well recently. The spring was a dream weekend … getting my second Sprint Cup win there. Obviously, the Xfinity series wins I had there all in a row, and the truck series wins, have been real confidence boosters.
"I've sort of learned how to drive it a little bit, and I know what I need in my race car to make it easier."
Busch's run through this season's Chase is similar to his finish last season. He has not won a race in NASCAR's playoffs in 2016 but has four top-five and six top-10 finishes in seven Chase starts. The absence of a Chase win shouldn't worry the reigning series champion. After all, Busch's first win in last year's Chase didn't come until the finale at Homestead.
"Anything can happen so we just have to make sure we can take what's given to us like we did last year," Busch said. "There were some times we didn't get the finishes we wanted, but we were still able to transfer through. This year, we will try to get the finish we do want and make our way through the rounds if possible and get to the end.
"Certainly, you're on the highest of highs at the checkered flag at Homestead last year, but it just continues to diminish all through this year because, you know, you try to repeat and, if you can repeat, you'll be at the highest of highs again. But eventually, in about three more weeks, your reign is over, so you try to repeat if you can."
XFINITY: Kyle Larson held off Brad Keselowski to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, leaving all four spots in the battle for the series championship open going into the final elimination round. Daniel Suarez finished a point ahead of Elliott Sadler among the eight drivers battling for the series title. Because none of them won, they will vie for the top four spots next week at Phoenix before the series finale at Homestead. It was Larson's first series victory at Texas and his second win of the season. Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top three. Erik Jones was the top finisher among the title contenders, taking fourth. Jones is third in series points, 10 behind Suarez.