|Date: March 11, 2018
Event: TicketGuardian 500k (Round 4 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 23rd/10th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (117 points, 51 behind leader Kevin Harvick)
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):
● Busch started 23rd and finished eighth, collecting three bonus points.
● The No. 41 Mobil 1/Haas Automation Ford Fusion went from 23rd to 16th before the first caution on lap 25.
● Pitted on lap 27 for four tires and fuel.
● By lap 40, Busch was up to 12th.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):
● Busch started 11th and won Stage 2, collecting 10 bonus points and a playoff point.
● The 2004 Cup Series champion pitted on lap 79 for four tires and fuel but no changes to the racecar.
● While fifth, Busch pitted on lap 123 for four tires and fuel and rejoined the raced in fifth.
● After a late caution, some leaders decided to pit and Busch found himself in first place. On a one-lap restart, Busch held off Brad Keselowski and won Stage 2.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):
● Started 24th and finished 10th.
● Busch pitted on lap 153 for four tires and fuel.
● While in 18th, Busch pitted under caution on a lap 192 for four tires and fuel. He restarted on lap 198 in 15th.
● Busch pitted on lap 259 for four tires and fuel while running 11th.
● The No. 41 Mobil 1/Haas Automation Ford Fusion finished the race 10th.
● This was Busch’s second top-10 of 2018 and his 18th top-10 in 31 career Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
● Busch led once for six laps to bring his laps-led total at Phoenix to 757.
● Busch finished eighth in Stage 1 to earn three bonus points. He won Stage 2 to earn an additional 10 bonus points and one playoff point.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 36 laps.
● Kevin Harvick won his 40th career Cup Series race, which puts him in a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin for 18th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list.
● This was Harvick’s third Cup Series win of 2018 and his series-best ninth at Phoenix.
● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch in the TicketGuardian 500k was .774 of a second.
● This is the first time SHR has placed all four of its drivers in the top-10 in a single race.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Mobil 1/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“The car responded well to my steering and gas inputs. I was a little slow on restarts, but I love being able to lean on the right-rear tire and make passes later in the run. Our strategy unfolded the best it could have to win Stage 2 and get back in the top-10. We just didn’t run the same lap times we did at the end as we did at the beginning of the race, but all in all it was a good day.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 18 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!