Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):
● Kyle Busch started 37th, finished 12th.
● Busch had to start at the rear of the field after wrecking his primary car in final practice on Saturday.
● Knowing it was a long race, the SNICKERS Creamy driver went to work to make up for starting in the rear of the field, cracking the top-20 by lap 11. He was in 12th place by the time the competition caution was displayed on lap 35.
● During the caution Busch reported that the car was handling well but was just a little tight in the center and exit of the turns.
● Crew chief Adam Stevens elected to make an air pressure adjustment, change four tires and add fuel during the stop. A fast stop by the pit crew gained the team seven positions, placing Busch in fifth place for the restart.
● The tight handling issue persisted as green-flag racing resumed, and Busch dropped from fifth to 10th over the course of three laps. He reported the car was handling the tightest it had.
● Busch held onto the car and was in 12th place by the time Stage 1 concluded.
● In an effort to alleviate the handling issue, the team made a chassis adjustment and adjusted air pressures, as they changed four tires and added fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):
● Busch started 14th, finished ninth.
● The SNICKERS Creamy driver had a good restart to begin Stage 2, settling into a comfortable pace in the eighth position. He reported on lap 109 that the handling on the car was heading in the right direction but he need a little more.
● The field collectively started making green-flag pit stops on lap 125. Busch attempted to make his stop on lap 126 but missed the entrance to pit road and nearly locked up his brakes. He came back around to make his stop on lap 127 for an air pressure adjustment, four tires and fuel, but the miscue resulted in him losing a handful of positions. He was in 15th place by the time the field completed their respective stops.
● Busch quietly logged laps noting that he still needed the car to turn better as Stage 2 came to a close and that the car’s handling was really troubling in traffic.
● After finished ninth in Stage 2 Busch made a trip to pit road for another round of adjustments, four tires and fuel. Quick pit work placed him in sixth place to start the final stage of the race.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 171-325):
● Busch started sixth, finished sixth.
● Once again Busch took advantage of a restart – jumping up toward the front of the field and grabbing the third spot. He passed teammate Martin Truex Jr. on lap 194 for second place but gave it back a few laps later on lap 208. He was in fourth place by lap 213.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champ started reporting a potential tire issue on lap 218. The tire eventually came apart on lap 222, causing some significant damage to the right rear of the car. NASCAR displayed the caution for the incident. Busch made multiple trips to pit road for repairs and restarted the race at the tail end of the field in 22nd when green-flag racing resumed.
● Despite the damage sustained, the No. 18 SNICKERS Creamy Toyota remained fast. Busch was able to race his way back into the top-15 by lap 255.
● Green-flag pit stops started taking place on lap 268, with Busch making his own stop on lap 271. A caution was displayed on lap 272 for an accident on pit road, which resulted in all but a handful of cars being a lap down to the race leaders. Busch, along with a number of other drivers, took the wave-around to restart on the lead lap. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 282 with Busch in 14th place.
● Busch patiently logged laps and picked up positions as the laps wound down. He was back in the top-10 by lap 300 and made his way to sixth place by the time the checkered flag waved.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Creamy Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We had a heck of a day – a heck of a weekend, actually. On the Cup side, we just had no fun this weekend. It was really unfortunate for us and our SNICKERS Creamy Toyota. The guys worked hard and persevered, and we battled through and took what was probably set to be a 14th- or 16th-place car in our Camry and ended up sixth with it. So it wasn’t too bad, I guess.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday, March 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX.