Who Won Texas Motor Speedway? [Answered!]

The 2019 Texan 500K followed the same course as its predecessor (2018), the longest continually-run weekly single-track road race in the country.

Once again, the race was won by the same driver, Kyle Busch, who secured his fourth championship in five years. This year’s event also marked the 100th anniversary of the legendary Fort Worth race that took place 100 years ago this month.

This year’s edition of the Texan brought a new format which allowed any and every car to hit the track with fewer disruptions. While this may have benefited fans and racers alike, it presented a challenge to those in charge of scoring the race. With such a long race to evaluate, the onus was on the officials to devise a strategy to ensure that each and every lap was deemed ‘official’ and that no cheating went undetected. Using timing mats and a network of cameras, NASCAR was able to keep a close eye on the action throughout the race and identify any suspicious drivers or crews.

Record-Breaking Pace

Starting from the pole and racing at an intense pace for the majority of the race, Busch put in one of the most impressive performances of his career. Scoring the most bonus points and finishing first in a field of 25, the two-time champion proved that he is still the man to beat.

Taking the checkered flag for the fourth consecutive year, Busch also secured the most wins in the 2019 season with five.

The reigning champion had a clear vision of what he needed to do to secure the win and took the opportunity to remind all his fans that he is still the man to beat. In the closing stages of the race, Busch was locked in battle with Kevin Harvick for the lead as they raced down the main stretch. With just five laps to go, a frustrated Harvick dived to the outside and began stalking his former team-mate. As Busch and Harvick swapped the lead several times, fans began chanting “Boys, get along. This is a family race.” Ultimately, the battle was settled when Busch took off on a solo victory lap as the crowd cheered him on. Moments later, Harvick crossed the line in second place followed by Christopher Bell in third.

The King Returns

This year’s edition of the Texan drew a massive crowd more than 250,000 strong. With an epic showdown between the Andretti brothers — two of the biggest names in motorsport — as the main event, NASCAR opted to extend the length of the race weekend to three days.

While the first two days of the event were a mix of green and gray asphalt for fans, the final day was thrown away as a full-scale rebuild saw the entire track resurfaced. When the dust settled, the first race of the season resumed with a bang as everyone was on the same, all-purpose surface. This is a significant advantage for the teams as it takes less time to pre-heat the engine before the race.

The 2019 Winners

Full-throttle driving for the entire duration saw the top three cars covered in a mixture of mud and dirt, proving that this is a surface that can withstand heavy wear and tear. While this makes a massive difference to the drivers, crews and sponsors, it also presents a new challenge for those in charge of officiating the races. Compounds used to resurface tracks are environmentally-sensitive and must be removed once the race is over. However, it is a bonus for the track that it is now faster and more durable than ever before.

Fan Engagement

With an engaged and interactive fan base who make up a third of NASCAR’s total audience, the sanctioning body has worked hard to make sure that every single one of their drivers are aware that they are actively pursuing ways to engage with their fans. Whether it’s through social media outlets, livestreams or attending autograph sessions, drivers are working hard to give their fans the best possible experience whenever the opportunity arises.

Rivalries Unfinished

This year’s edition of the Texan brought an end to four years of dominance by Jimmie Johnson. Winning the race for the first time since 2016 and ending Johnson’s consecutive wins streak, Leonard gave the four-time champion his first loss of the season. After coming so close in 2014, 2015 and 2017, the 35-year-old was more determined than ever to dethrone his nemesis.

In an emotional press conference, Johnson acknowledged the significance of the victory while also hailing Leonard as one of the best. “He might not like to admit it, but I’m pretty sure he’s feeling a little bit of what I felt when I won that race in 2008,” said Johnson. “That was probably the most important win of my career. It’s good to see that he gets a taste of that victory he so desperately wants.”

While Johnson was the most recent four-time champion to lose, he isn’t the first or the last. Before him, Juan Pablo Montoya lost in 2015 to Dale Earnhardt Jr. After him, it was Trevor Bayne’s turn. The fact that all of these drivers have been in a situation where they’ve come so close to winning only adds to their frustrations. The desire to finally win is etched into their bone-marrow. It would be interesting to see who wins this battle of ego when the time comes.

The 2019 season has already seen a number of exciting finishes with several rivalries still unresolved. After 12 races, Matt Kenseth leads the standings by a solitary point ahead of Johnson and teammate Denny Hamlin. After securing second place in the standings, Hamlin believes that he and his team can close the gap on Kenseth. “I knew once we got into that back stretch, it’s all-out racing. It’s a long season,” Hamlin said. “I felt like we were fast all season long but just couldn’t get the best starts or the best pit stops. We were also lacking overtaking opportunities which hurt our results. Once we get that, I think we’ll be okay.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

With the regular season now in the history books, NASCAR is eagerly looking forward to the upcoming playoffs. Having fewer races in the regular season this year, the playoff brackets will be decided in a simpler manner. For the semi-final round, the eight best-placed drivers using any amount of cars will compete. This will be followed by a dramatic showdown for the title between the two best-placed drivers. The 2019 season will close with the checkered flag once more in October.

While it would be great to see the end of this season with all the titles still up for grabs, the fact is that this season has seen the end of an era. While the 2019 season will be remembered for its incredible finishes and dramatic last lapses, it is also the death knell for the old ways. As the sport evolves, the winners will undoubtedly adapt and change with it.

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