Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-105):
● Kyle Busch started 19th and finished second, earning nine bonus points.
● Busch started midpack but didn’t stay there long as he moved up through the field with ease, finding himself up in the top-10 by lap eight and in the top-five by the time the competition yellow waved on lap 25.
● The M&M’S Messages driver came to pit road for the first time on lap 27, and the No. 18 over-the-wall team got him off pit road in the fifth spot.
● Busch quickly moved up to second by lap 80 after making a green-flag stop on lap 64 and finished the stage in the runner-up spot.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 106-210):
● Busch started second, finished fourth and earned seven bonus points.
● Busch came down pit road on lap 108 to take on four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment intended to help the car free up a bit in traffic on restarts. He came off pit road second to start Stage 2.
● On the ensuing restart, Busch spun his tires and couldn’t get going fast enough. He fell to ninth by the time he got to turn one, just as his brother Kurt Busch was spun, bringing out the caution.
●The M&M’S Messages driver worked his way back up to seventh by lap 137 and came to pit road for a green-flag stop on lap 159. The No. 18 over-the-wall team gained Busch two spots on the track to fifth, and he moved up to fourth to end Stage 2.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 211-325):
● Busch started fifth, finished fifth.
● The two-time Cup Series champion started the final stage in fifth and had moved up to third by lap 219 when the caution waved for Chase Elliott’s blown engine.
● Busch came to pit road on lap 222 for tires and fuel, but he was penalized for going too fast on pit road and had to restart at the tail of the field in 20th place on lap 224.
● The M&M’S Messages driver came charging through the field, advancing to the top-10 by lap 270 and up into the top-five by lap 300.
● The bad news for Busch was that the last 100 laps went caution free, so he had no time to get his track position back but held onto fifth for the finish.
● Busch’s fifth-place finish at Atlanta was his second top-five result of 2021.
● This is Busch’s seventh top-five and 10th top-10 finish at Atlanta in 23 career starts.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Messages Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“I thought we were good all day. The M&M’s Messages Camry was fast. Every time I would log my way and claw my way up to the front, we would have a problem. I had a restart issue that sent us back seven spots. Got back up to third, and then we sped on pit road. Got back up to fifth. That’s all it is, all day long is just a claw, and that’s all you can do. There’s not enough separation in speed between cars and fall-off and all that sort of stuff. Great job by the guys. We definitely improved our car. It was good in the early stages and even better in the late stages, but everybody else was better, too. That’s all we had.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday, March 28, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.