Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. led the three-truck team with a seventh-place finish Friday night in the WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. KBM teammate Joey Coulter finished 12th, while team owner/driver Kyle Busch finished 28th after engine issues.
Wallace Jr., who started 17th in the No. 54 Camping World/Good Sam Toyota Tundra, moved into the top 10 on a Lap 28 restart, where he remained for the rest of the 147-lap event. With his seventh-place finish, he moved up two positions in points to sixth place; he was also the highest-ranked finisher in the Rookie of the Year standings.
"Good night for my team and I and it's really what we needed coming here,” said Wallace Jr. on the KBM website. “We finished sixth here in June and these aero tracks, they're tough. We still need to find some speed. Just too tight on the longer runs and really couldn't do anything - moved up next to the fence and started making some ground, but the minute those guys saw me do that then they moved up there and took all the air away. Couldn't really do anything, but proud of my Camping World/Good Sam Toyota team - they've been working hard coming off the big win last week. We're still carrying that momentum so now we can go to a track next weekend where we can actually drive it and don't have to depend on the air that much so I'm looking forward to that and we'll take this top-10 finish. I think we made up some ground on the points in both overall and rookie so good points day."
Coulter, in the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra, started 19th in the race and battled an ill-handling truck throughout the race, as well as fighting through traffic to gain position, before crossing the finish line 12th.
"It was an odd night, it just didn't seem like we could go anywhere," said Coulter. "I'm not sure if we were battling an engine issue, transmission issue or rear-end issue, but something was going sour on this Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra tonight. I was suffering from a really bad vibration most of the race. However, Harold (Holly) and the guys did a really good job on pit road, kept fighting and kept us in the hunt. They made some good adjustments throughout the night, got it free enough so I was able to find some speed. Overall it was a good night for this Kyle Busch Motorsports team."
Busch qualified 11th in the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra, but moved into the top five before the race was two laps old. The night would soon go downhill, however, when Busch’s truck began overheating due to debris on the grill; after several attempts to dislodge the debris by running behind competitors, Busch was forced to pit road under green so that the team could remove the debris, returning to the track one lap down. In spite of removing the debris, Busch reported that the engine was still off, an idea that revealed itself further as a big puff of smoke on Lap 97 as the engine expired.
Busch dropped from 15 points back of Matt Crafton’s No. 88 in the owner’s points standings before the race to 32 points back following his 28th-place finish.
"It must have got trash on the grill early and then once it got hot - these motors can't get hot and recover," said Busch. "Surprised it recovered as good as it did there for a while and it sort of got hot again. I don't think there was trash on the grill, I think it was just build-up of heat in the motor. Ultimately there, we were just trying to suffer on and see if we couldn't make it to the end - see if it would live. Once they get hot a bunch of things internally start going wrong and eventually it goes real bad. I hate it for all these guys. We were in the hunt for the owner's championship - this pretty much eliminates it. It sucks. This Toyota Care Tundra has been awesome this year. These guys have done a whale of a job. We've been fast a lot, we've won a lot and had a really fast truck here tonight, but nobody was going to touch the 3 (Ty Dillon)."
Dillon won the race, leading 130 of the 147 laps, followed by Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday Jr., Brendan Gaughan and Justin Lofton.
The Camping World Truck Series gets back on track next Friday, November 8th at Phoenix International Raceway. Wallace Jr. and Coulter will be joined out west by 17-year-old Erik Jones, in his final Truck Series race of the season for KBM. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com and www.kylebuschmotorsports.com.
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