Kyle Busch held Martin Truex Jr. at bay to claim his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the 2013 season in Saturday's Texas Motor Speedway night race.
Busch – who also won the Nationwide Series race at Texas on Friday night – had started from pole and dominated the first half of the race. But when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota's handling drifted away during the transition from evening to night-time conditions, it looked like he might have to settle for a top-three finish at best.
Truex, hunting for his first victory since 2007, twice got his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to the front for long stints. He had a comfortable advantage going into the closing stages, only to be vaulted by Busch when the field pitted for tires under a debris caution with 20 laps left.
Busch credited his pit crew for the decisive moment.
"They pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put us up front, to give us that lead, and we were able to bring it home," said Busch, who claimed the seventh Nationwide/Cup weekend sweep of his career, a record.
Truex was bitterly disappointed with the second-place result.
"We started near the front and had a decent car at the beginning, but not great," Truex said. "We worked on it all night and got it to where it was the best car out there," he related. "The last caution came out, and we got beat out of the pits, and that was the race. It was pretty frustrating to run second again. I feel like we've been in this boat and this position a bunch of times.
Truex dismissed the idea that Busch's No. 1 pit stall had helped him.
"We came in with the lead," Truex said. "I still feel like we should have been able to beat him out. I don't know what happened there, but it wasn't even close. I was three (car-lengths) behind, so it wasn't all pit position, it was other things on our end…
He never got another chance as Busch pulled away and, although his lead dwindled in last-lap traffic, he was not seriously threatened.
Jeff Gordon was the other major victory contender, holding the lead for several spells. But a puncture when running third late on left him in the Hendrick garage with wheel hub damage. Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle were third and fourth, ahead of Joey Logano.
Both Penske Fords had pre-race drama in technical inspections, with Logano having to start last as work on the car's rear could not be completed in time. He made it through the field to fifth, ahead of points leader Jimmie Johnson.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a top-three factor until a battery issue and pit penalties cost him five laps.
Aric Almirola took seventh, better than his fellow qualifying stars managed. His Petty teammate Marcos Ambrose lost ground in a brush with David Gilliland, while front row starter Kurt Busch spent many laps in the Furniture Row garage due to fuel rail issues.
Denny Hamlin's Gibbs stand-in Brian Vickers took eighth. Champion Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.
Reid Spence/NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.
Results - 334 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 3h27m40.000s
2. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 0.508s
3. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 2.839s
4. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 3.250s
5. Joey Logano Penske Ford + 4.482s
6. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 5.657s
7. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 5.884s
8. Brian Vickers Joe Gibbs Toyota + 7.584s
9. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford + 7.845s
10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 9.341s
11. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 10.384s
12. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 10.979s
13. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 11.542s
14. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 11.733s
15. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 14.384s
16. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 20.091s
17. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 24.748s
18. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford + 26.714s
19. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap
20. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 1 lap
21. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 1 lap
22. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 2 laps
23. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 2 laps
24. David Reutimann BK Toyota + 2 laps
25. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet + 2 laps
26. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 2 laps
27. David Stremme Swan Toyota + 3 laps
28. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 3 laps
29. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 4 laps
30. Josh Wise Front Row Ford + 4 laps
31. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 4 laps
32. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 5 laps
33. Austin Dillon Phoenix Chevrolet + 8 laps
34. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet + 8 laps
35. Joe Nemechek NEMCO-JRR Toyota + 10 laps
36. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford + 12 laps
37. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet + 18 laps
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 306 laps
JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 293 laps
Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 290 laps*
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 140 laps
Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 138 laps
Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 44 laps
* Running again at chequered flag