By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on April 11, 2016 | 9:46 A.M. EST
MRN’s Pete Pistone has handed out his checkered and black flags for Texas, with Kasey Kahne (5) and Ryan Blaney among the recipients. (Photo: Getty Images)
Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway generated lots of good and bad.
You can love him or hate him, but you have to respect the mercurial Busch. He won his second straight Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night and has now swept consecutive weekends at Texas and Martinsville. Busch will shoot for an unprecedented fifth straight victory in a NASCAR national series on Saturday at Bristol.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He’s still winless in 2016, but Earnhardt has been one of the more interesting stories in the first seven races of the season. Saturday night, he rallied to come home second behind Busch and it seems like a victory is within reach.
Speaking of being poised for a win, that sure seems to be the case around Elliott – who scored his first career top-five finish in his 12th Sprint Cup start. The freshman driver has lived up to the hype in the early going of the season and led a Hendrick Motorsports run of all four drivers inside the top 10 at Texas.
It’s been well-documented how much Kahne has struggled in recent years, but there was a ray of hope in Texas. He bounced back from last week’s Martinsville disappointment, when he started from the outside of the front row but faded from the drop of the green flag. An eighth-place performance in Texas had to feel good for the beleaguered No. 5 team.
Speeding on pit road and another penalty for an uncontrolled tire looked like it would doom Harvick. But the 2014 champion didn’t give up and earned a 10th-place finish.
Martin Truex Jr.
He led a race-high 141 laps and had one of the fastest cars, but suspect pit strategy at the end of Saturday night’s race … the decision by crew chief Cole Pearn to keep Truex out rather than pit for tires on the final caution … was the No. 78 team’s undoing. He was promptly passed by Busch for the lead and Truex faded to a sixth-place finish.
There was hope in the Roush Fenway Racing camp at Texas with Biffle’s teammates, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., showing speed. Unfortunately for “The Biff,” his miseries continued with a trip into the wall on Lap 286 and a 39th-place finish.
Richard Childress Racing
It’s a team owner’s nightmare when his entire stable gets involved in a single accident, but that’s exactly what RCR endured Saturday night when Austin Dillon bobbled on the backstretch to set off a chain-reaction crash that also swept up Ryan Newman and Paul Menard.
His otherwise-stellar rookie campaign hit a sour note in Texas with a trouble-filled night that added up to a 29th-place finish. It spoiled the weekend for the optimistic Blaney, who was looking forward to racing at a track where he had previous experience.
I’m not a fan of bringing politics or religious beliefs into the sports world. It generates an uncomfortable atmosphere, as it did on Saturday night from Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame. Everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs and positions but in my opinion, they should stay just that – personal.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.