The Bizarre Similarities in Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson Crashes at Texas and Why NASCAR Was Happy With the End Result in Both
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson crashed in separate incidents at Texas Motor Speedway, ended their days early, and suffered significant blows to their playoff hopes. Upon closer inspection, the two accidents were eerily similar in how and where they happened, and both interestingly confirmed NASCAR is headed in the right direction.
Kyle Busch hits wall with rear of car in Stage 1
Kyle Busch had a solid car coming into the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 playoff race at Texas, qualifying seventh. Despite that good starting position, things didn’t start on the right foot for the 38-year-old when he encountered problems early in the first stage and informed his team on the radio that one of his tires was vibrating. Unfortunately, before the crew could check the issue, the No. 8 car got sideways going into Turn 1, leaving a trail of tire marks before it slammed backward into the wall with seven laps to go in the stage.
The Richard Childress Racing driver then pulled off a surprising move and drove his car almost the entire length of the track back to pit road in reverse, later informing reporters he did so because he didn’t want the car to get stuck or “beached” on the track.
Once in his stall, the pit crew went to work on the heavy damage to the car’s left rear. However, it was too severe, and several minutes later Busch headed to the garage. He finished 34th.
Kyle Larson crashes late in eerily similar fashion to Busch
Kyle Larson didn’t have his best qualifying effort at the 1.5-mile track and started 11th. After an uneventful first stage, the No. 5 car came to life in the second and made its way forward. When the stage checkers waved, the Hendrick Motorsports car crossed the finish line first, an impressive six seconds ahead of the next competitor.
In the third and final stage, it was more of the same from the 2021 champion, as he pulled away from the field and was leading by almost five seconds when a caution came out with 26 laps to go. On the restart, Larson raced door-to-door with Bubba Wallace for an entire lap, crossed the start-finish line next to the 23XI Racing car, and headed into Turn 1.
That’s when disaster struck and, like Busch several stages earlier, he turned sideways and took an almost identical track into the wall with his tire marks running on top of the No. 8 car’s earlier marks. However, the HMS car didn’t rotate as much as the RCR car and the right rear hit the wall and suffered the damage.
Larson’s team tried to work on his car and get it back on track, but did so unsuccessfully. He finished 31st.
NASCAR happy with end result of both crashes
Most fans remember the Texas playoff race in 2022. Failed tires and a record number of cautions. Alex Bowman was one of the first when he blew a tire on Lap 98, lost control, and backed into the outside wall coming out of Turn 4. At the time, the contact didn’t appear serious, with minimal damage to the rear of the No. 48 car. As we all know now, the HMS driver suffered a concussion and missed multiple races.
And that’s why what happened to Larson and Busch over the weekend, while a bad moment for the individual teams, was a good moment for NASCAR. Both cars sustained enough damage to the rear of the cars to end their respective days, but, more importantly, the drivers walked away uninjured.
NASCAR, which took a lot of heat in 2022, and deservedly so, for the issues with rear impacts in the Next Gen car, made modifications this past offseason and softened the rear clip to absorb more energy at impact. On Sunday at Texas, those changes worked and the car did its job. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.