Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-25):
● Kyle Buschstarted 14th and finished seventh.
● The M&M’S Toyota driver was in 10th by the time the first caution was displayed on lap 11. A handful of teams stopped, which placed Busch in ninth place for the restart on lap 16.
● Busch picked up two positions on the restart to take over seventh place. He maintained the position to the conclusion of Stage 1, earning four bonus points.
● Once again, the team elected to stay out during the caution while a number of teams elected to pit. The decision placed the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota in third place for the restart.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 26-50):
● Busch started third and finished 12th.
● Racing resumed with Busch in third place. He surrendered one position before he made his first trip to pit road for a scheduled pit stop on lap 35 for four tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 29th place on lap 38.
● Crew chief Adam Stevens encouraged Busch to make smooth laps and conserve his tires as Stage 2 drew to a close.
● As Stage 2 continued, a series a number of drivers were forced to make trips to pit road for service or were involved in minor incidents. This allowed Busch to make up a great deal of track position during the final 10 laps of the stage, placing him in 12th for the conclusion of Stage 2.
● As part of their race strategy, the No. 18 M&M’S team did not make a trip to pit road for service during the caution. This placed Busch in third for the start of Stage 3.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 51-109):
● Busch started third and finished 32nd.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champ was able to move up to the second position at the restart. He then settled into a comfortable pace, trying to chase down race leader Kyle Larson.
● Busch was in second place when caution was displayed on lap 65. He reported that the car had started handling on the tight side – particularly in turns 13 and 14. He said the front just wouldn’t turn.
● The team took advantage of the next caution period on lap 68 to bring the No. 18 to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Busch was in ninth place for the restart on lap 71.
● The Las Vegas native methodically logged laps and was in fifth place by lap 75 when he went into fuel conservation mode. All teams were projected to be short on fuel, and during the next several laps he made an effort to conserve without losing touch with the race leaders.
● Busch was in third place on lap 85 when he made a more aggressive effort to save fuel through different tactics.
● A caution on lap 102 set up a late restart on lap 103. Busch was in fourth place and in position to race to the end without fear of running out of fuel. Race leader Brad Keselowski had trouble going into the first turn, triggering a multicar accident that collected the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota. The damage was beyond repair, and Busch was forced to retire from the race in 32nd place.
● Despite the tough finish, Busch’s position in the second round of the playoffs was secured one week ago with his win at Richmond International Raceway.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“I guess (the accident) just comes down to us all being on old tires and not really knowing what to expect or how much grip these tires would actually have. That’s about all that happened – we all over-drove the corner, and that’s all there is to it. I mean, you hate tearing up racecars and what not, but I guess they’re road course cars anyway, so you don’t necessarily need them anytime soon. Overall it just wasn’t a good day for our M&M’S Toyota Camry. It was going to be a fine day if we could’ve made it through that corner and had those other two guys out of our way, and then it was a race between the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and us, but it doesn’t matter anyway.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.