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Kyle Busch Earns 1st Win of Year in O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at NASCAR at Texas

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2018

Kyle Busch (18) comes out of Turn 4 during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)
Larry Papke/Associated Press

After four straight near misses, Kyle Busch finally captured his first checkered flag of the 2018 Monster Energy Series.

Busch held off Kevin Harvick and led a race-high 116 laps to win Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 and lock himself into the NASCAR playoffs. He and Harvick were more than seven seconds ahead of third-place Jamie McMurray. Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.

"(Harvick) was probably just a tick faster overall, but I just had to make sure I did everything I could to hit all my marks and everything, and did the right things to block his air and everything, but this Camry was really awesome today," Busch said after the race, per Anthony Andro of USA Today.

"This has been a trying couple of months, you know? After Daytona, we've just been on a roll of finishing real good and been really pumped and excited about that and the momentum we were able to carry, but frustrated at the same time trying to get to Victory Lane.

"It's so cool to be here in Victory Lane, finally, this year, and punch our ticket into the playoffs and just continue our hot streak, and keeping these guys focused on what we need to do all year long."

Busch entered the weekend on a streak of narrowly missing out on capturing the checkered flag. He finished no worse than third in any of the previous four races, including a second-place finish at ISM Raceway where he led 128 laps.

The win is Busch's third in his career at Texas and vaults him into second place in the standings. Harvick, who leads all drivers with three wins on the circuit, is currently in first place. Busch's 316 points overall are the most by any driver.

Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon are also locked into NASCAR's postseason.

The race featured a number of crashes that took out high-profile drivers. Truex finished in last place after being involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 80. Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin also finished outside the top 30 after being in crashes.

Johnson currently sits in 21st place in the points standings.

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