Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):
● Kyle Busch started 17th and finished sixth.
● Busch started 17th but found trouble just two laps into the 500-lap race. With the cars of William Byron and Aric Almirola making contact ahead of him, Busch slowed to avoid contact but was hit from behind by the car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
● Despite the damage, the Skittles team did not panic in the least bit. Busch came to pit road for multiple stops over the course of the first 40 laps of the race, getting the damaged fixed quickly and staying on the lead lap.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion restarted 23rd on lap 45 and immediately started moving up, running 14th by lap 70 and all the way up to eighth by lap 111.
● The caution waved with less than 10 laps to go in the stage, so crew chief Adam Stevens called Busch to pit road for four tires and adjustments on lap 119. Busch restarted 10th and vaulted all the way up to sixth in short order.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):
● Buschstarted fourth and finished fifth.
● With a few cars pitting during the caution for the stage break, Busch restarted in fourth on lap 135.
● The Skittles driver held his spot within the top-five for most of the second stage, but he battled a handling condition that he described to Stevens and the team as a lack of overall grip, saying the car felt like it was on top of the track too much.
● The Las Vegas native used an abundance of patience, staying out of trouble and finishing Stage 2 in the fifth position.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251-500):
● Started third and finished first.
● Busch came to pit road on lap 254 to take on four tires and adjustments, setting him up to restart in third for the start of the second half of the race.
● Busch struggled to get up to speed on the front end of the run on tires, but he gained steam as the tires wore down, moving from sixth on lap 331 up to fourth by lap 375.
● An opportune caution on lap 375 sent Busch to pit road to the attention of the crew, where his Skittles Camry got four tires and adjustments. Quick work by the over-the-wall crew vaulted Busch to second on the ensuing restart.
● Busch used the track position on the restart and powered his way around Clint Bowyer on lap 383 to lead the race for the first time.
● Busch held his first lead for 25 laps before Bowyer got by him on lap 400, and Joey Logano passed him for second on lap 413.
● Ten laps later, quick work once again by the Skittles Toyota crew during a round of pit stops under caution sent Busch back on track in the lead, which he held for 27 laps.
● The call of the race came during the final caution of the race, 20 laps from the scheduled finish, when Busch stayed on track while the lead-lap cars ahead of him all pitted.
● He got off to a solid restart with 14 laps remaining and was able to hold off the field the rest of the way, crossing the finish line .722 of a second ahead of his older brother, Kurt Busch, the runner-up.
● Kyle Busch’s victory was his 54th in 506 career Cup Series races and his eighth at Bristol.
● It was his third victory and eighth top-10 finish in eight races this season.
● Busch led three times for 71 laps, giving him 498 laps led this season and 2,294 laps led in 28 career races at Bristol.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol. I’ve seen that game played on both sides. I’ve seen it work more times than not. When the guys stay out, you have a better opportunity to be able to go for the win. It kind of fell into our hands there, being able to lead the restart, being able to get Kurt to not spin his tires and get up to second – it’s a good run for us Busch brothers to come home 1-2. Love this place. It was fun to battle with the brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get side by side, racing it out. I saw him working the top. I’m like, ‘I better go.’ I got up there, was able to make some ground. I don’t know, we’re crazy. We just do what we do, try to win. Man, just awesome to be here in front of this crowd, here at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end. I felt like we had to overcome a lot, especially on the short runs. We just didn’t have the burst-off speed that we needed for the first 30 to 40 laps. It kind of seemed after that we could maintain with a bunch of those guys and then we could kind of run those guys back down just a little bit. It was hit or miss a little for us today and this weekend. We thought we had a pretty good car in second practice yesterday and going into the race. We just didn’t quite have the speed. We just didn’t show exactly what we needed there.
(On winning his eighth career Cup Series race at Bristol) “It ain’t 12, that’s for sure, so I’ve got more to go. We’re getting there and it’s fun. It’s the most among active drivers, I guess. I think I heard that. But, you know, there are a lot more years left, hopefully. I mean, it’s good. I love winning at Bristol. You love winning everywhere. It’s nice to continue to bounty up some of those bonus points for the playoffs. Just want to thank everyone at Mars for all their support with Skittles, M&M'S, SNICKERS, PEDIGREE, everyone that makes this program go around and also to our friends at Interstate Batteries for their support as well.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.