While some may say that Kyle Busch has backed into his recent victories, his latest accolade is a true testament to his No. 18 team’s skills and quick reaction.
After posting the third quickest time in the only practice session for the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion did his part during qualifying.
Busch, along with Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Ryan Blaney earned their way into the knockout, pit stop competitions by qualifying inside the top eight after round 1. In this case, Busch turned to his No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota pit crew for the head-to-head pit stop battles.
Combining the pit crew competitions from the mid 2000s with drag racing, Kyle Busch and his peers took to the challenge in stride for the fans at Texas Motor Speedway.
Early on, Kyle Busch knocked out Truex, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, in the first knockout round with Larson, Byron, Blaney advancing alongside him.
The unique qualifying format brought interesting duels between Busch and Larson along with Byron and Blaney. Suffice to say, Busch’s crafty method of stopping moments after entering the pit box along with efficient stops by the No. 18 crew made all the difference on Saturday evening.
“Anytime you’re able to showcase the pit crews ability and have them and their athleticism in this competition and in this qualifying format, I enjoy that,” Busch said. “I think that’s my most favorite part of the year, coming to the All-Star race.”
Certainly, the grizzled veteran sang his praises for his over the wall crew while observing the latest change to the annual exhibition race.
“Whether it’s Charlotte and coming down pit road and sliding into the box, but having those guys go over the wall, (it) certainly means a lot,” he shared. “Especially this No. 18 bunch that I’ve had a lot of success with over the years, obviously changed up a few times, most recently.
“But we’ve always been a threat to be reckoned with when it comes to getting on the pole for the All-Star race. It feels good to have that today.”
On the other hand, Blaney, who had an equally stellar stop in the final qualifying round, had an optimistic perspective despite Busch besting him off pit road.
“It was decent, I guess,” Blaney remarked. “It was better than doing nothing. It puts a big emphasis on the pit crew, for sure. Our only job is to not stall it getting to the box and stop on the sign. I think a couple of guys did stall. It puts a big emphasis on those guys and their skillset.
“I am saying it is good because it worked out decent for us. If it went bad for us I would be saying the opposite. It was unique and I thought our guys did a good job. We got hurt on the lane choice there. I thought the bottom was better but we aren’t in a bad spot for tomorrow.”
Additionally, Blaney ruminated over the infamous resin on the outside lane at the 1.5-mile paved speedway, particularly after the 20 minute practice session.
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Meanwhile, Tyler Reddick, winner of Saturday’s SRS Distribution 250, hopes to join the NASCAR All-Star Race field after earning the pole for the Open.
However, Reddick and his No. 8 Guaranteed Rate Chevy Camaro team will have their work cut out for them for unapproved adjustments ahead of Sunday evening’s race.
Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Open and NASCAR All-Star Race can be seen on FS1 starting at 5 p.m. ET along with same day coverage here on The Podium Finish and our social media channels. Kyle Larson is the defending race winner.