Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press
After a 73-hour rain delay at the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, Kyle Busch earned his first win of the season by holding off Martin Truex Jr. in a race that came down to who had the most fuel.
In the second of three races in NASCAR’s Round of 8, only Truex and Alex Bowman among the playoff drivers finished in the top five at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday. Bowman placed fifth, followed by Brad Keselowski (sixth), Kurt Busch (seventh), Denny Hamlin (ninth), Joey Logano (10th), Kevin Harvick (16th) and Chase Elliott (20th).
When the race resumed Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, a pair of drivers in their final seasons were at the top of the leaderboard. Clint Bowyer was in the lead, followed by Jimmie Johnson, whose car blew up with 50 laps remaining.
Bubba Wallace and Matt Kenseth got into a wreck before the 10th lap of the restart, capping off their day early.
At first, Bowyer managed to hold on to the lead that he held at the end of Sunday, blocking Truex with three laps to go to take the Stage 1 victory. Truex also finished second in Stage 2, but this time, it was Kyle Busch who took the stage victory, just the third this year for the reigning Cup Series champion.
Busch took the lead from Truex before the final 10 laps of the stage, holding it through the restart with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate continuing to chase.
Bowyer held the lead with 30 laps to go but still needed to pit for fuel, after Busch had given up the lead with 69 laps left to fill up. Busch regained first with 24 laps left, with Truex and Christopher Bell in pursuit, and ended up taking the victory. Bell, who will join Joe Gibbs Racing next year, finished third.
The elimination race in the Round of 8 takes place Sunday at Martinsville Raceway in Virginia. NASCAR’s championship race is scheduled for Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway.