Three races. Three cowboy hats. That's what Kyle Busch was gunning for this weekend. In the end, he barely missed the bulls-eye, coming up a little short on his third shot.
After winning the Winstar World Casino 350 truck race on Friday, then dominating the O'Reilly Challenge Nationwide race on Saturday, all that stood between Busch and history was the Dickies 500 Cup race.
The bit of history he was aiming at—to become the first driver ever to win a race in all three of NASCAR's major touring series in the same weekend at the same track.
Busch bagged his 16th career victory Friday night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, leading the most laps (54-of-147) in the process.
He dominated again during his 29th career victory Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, again leading the most laps (179-of-200) in the process.
Sunday, Busch seemed poised to finally finish off the elusive triple-win he has attempted so many times in his short career.
Busch started fifth and as in the previous two days, he dominated the race, eventually leading the most laps (232-of-334).
After the smoke from the victor's donuts had cleared, however, there was a Busch in Victory Lane—but it wasn't Kyle.
After pitting on Lap 269-of-334, Kyle was leading and trying to conserve fuel when he ran out on the backstretch on Lap 331.
"I'm out! I'm out—coming to you!" he radioed to his new crew chief Dave Rogers, who replaced Steve Addington on the pit box after last Sunday’s race at Talladega.
He coasted around to pit road, took on a splash of gas, and headed back out to finish 11th, while his brother Kurt, who pitted two laps after Kyle on Lap 271, took home the trophy, the cowboy hat, and the six-shooters.
All in all, it was still an impressive weekend for the younger Busch brother. He brought his total visits to victory lane in the NCWTS and NNS this year to seven and eight, respectively, and to 19 across all three series.
Kyle led over two-thirds of all the laps run for the weekend (465-out-of-681) on his way to bringing home his 60th and 61st career victories across all three major NASCAR touring series.
Considering he had only led eight laps in his last eight Cup races—four each at Martinsville and Talledega, and none in the six races before that—this was quite a promising start for Busch and his new crew chief.
Moreover, he increased his lead in the battle for his first major NASCAR title to 272 points over Nationwide series rival Carl Edwards. And he still holds a 32 point lead over Matt Kenseth in the "first of the rest" race for 13th place in the Cup series.
His efforts also helped owner Billy Ballew move the No. 51 truck team to within 75 points of Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s No. 33 team, driven by NCWTS points leader Ron Hornaday.
This was the second time this year Kyle came oh-so-close to completing the weekend triple. In February of this year, he won both the NCWTS and NNS races on the same day at the Auto Club Speedway, and finished third in the Cup race the next day.
Next week Busch will begin his quest anew at a track where he nearly pulled off the triple-win two years ago. In November, 2007, he won both the truck and Nationwide (then-Busch) series races, then finished eighth in the Cup race.
(Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)