Race Winner: Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Kyle Busch started 33rd and finished fourth, earning seven stage points.
● Busch dropped to the rear of the field for the start of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 because the team changed an engine following qualifying, but he was able to race into the top-20 by lap 12.
● The SNICKERS Toyota driver reported from the 15th position that his car was too tight just before the competition caution on lap 35.
● Crew chief Adam Stevens brought Busch to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
● Busch restarted from the 15th position and was only able to advance to 12th before the second caution of the race on lap 69.
● He told the team the previous adjustments had helped to balance the car but he was now in need of rear grip.
● Busch pitted on lap 70 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment and lined up sixth for the lap 72-restart.
● He moved up to the fourth position with eight laps remaining in Stage 1 and held on there to finish the stage.
●The No. 18 SNICKERS team pitted at the stage break for four tires, fuel and adjustments to improve grip.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Busch started third and finished first, earning 10 stage points and one playoff point.
● Busch ran in the third position until the yellow caution flag was shown on lap 142.
● He told the team that he was still in need of grip and pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
● Busch lined up second for the lap 145-restart and maintained his position until caution on lap 159.
● The SNICKERS Toyota driver radioed to the team that his Camry was too tight over the bumps and pitted for four tries, fuel and adjustments.
● Busch was first off pit road and took over the race lead on lap 160.
● The sixth caution of the race occurred on lap 199 with Stage 2 being completed under yellow and Busch being declared the stage winner.
● Busch told the team the handling of his SNICKERS Toyota had not improved over the last run, so they pitted at the stage break for four fresh tires, fuel and additional adjustments.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-367):
● Started first and finished third.
● Busch continued to lead as green-flag pit stops began on lap 250, and chose to make his stop on lap 258.
● The SNICKERS Toyota team gave Busch four tires and fuel with no adjustments after he reported the handling was neutral.
● The Las Vegas native returned to the track in the lead with 108 laps to go.
● Caution occurred again on lap 275 and Busch told the team his SNICKERS Toyota was handling very well.
● Stevens brought his driver to pit road on lap 277 for four tires and fuel, but a longer stop led to Busch lining up third for the restart on lap 281.
● While running in the third position on lap 295, Busch reported his SNICKERS Toyota started off free on fresher tires but was beginning to tighten up.
● Busch made a final pit stop under green from the third position on lap 321 for four tires fuel and adjustments.
● He returned to the track in fifth and ended up second after the field cycled through stops.
● With five laps to go, Busch made contact with the outside wall, preventing him him from catching leader Erik Jones.
● Busch ultimately finished in the third position but clinched the Regular Season Championship with only one race remaining before the start of the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS 1990 Retro Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Our SNICKERS Toyota was really strong once we finally got going tonight. Coming from the back isn’t always easy here at Darlington, but we kept out of trouble and made it happen. I felt like we’d really have a chance there at the end, but I didn’t have enough to catch Erik (Jones) and ended up getting into the wall and making a mess for myself. I’m glad we were able to clinch the Regular Season Championship tonight, though. Those extra playoff points can be a huge benefit in the early rounds of the Playoffs and provide a bit of a buffer should something go wrong.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.