|Date: June 3, 2018
Event: Pocono 400 (Round 14 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 5th/3rd (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 624 points, 87 ahead of second
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Kyle Busch started fifth and finished third.
● Within the first four laps, Busch raced his way from fifth to second place, and he was closing in on the leader when he got a little loose and had to let off the gas. The loss of momentum cost him a couple positions, and he was back to fourth place by lap 10.
● After a handful of laps, Busch reported that the car was handling a little loose in turn one, a little tight at the entrance and exit of turn two and “pretty decent” in turn three.
● Busch made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 24 for air pressure and chassis adjustments, four tires and fuel. A quick pit stop positioned the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry to be in the lead once green-flag stops cycled through.
● Busch quickly noted, however, that something wasn’t quite right with the car’s handling, citing a potential issue with air pressures in the tires. He wound up losing a couple of positions and eventually settled into a manageable pace in third place, the position he maintained to the conclusion of Stage 1.
● The team used the break to make another round of air pressure and wedge adjustments, change four tires and add fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Busch started fourth and finished second.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion patiently worked his way to third place within the first 10 laps of Stage 2. He noted early that he needed the car to be down more on the left side. Busch made a scheduled, green-flag stop on lap 77, where the team made a round of air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel.
● Once green-flag stops cycled through on lap 83, Busch was back in second place. While he closed the distance between himself and race leader Kevin Harvick during the round of pit stops, he didn’t have quite enough to be in a position to battle for the lead and eventually settled for the Stage 2 runner-up finish.
● During the break Busch brought the M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry to the attention of the team on pit road, where they made another round of air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 101-160):
● Busch started third and finished third.
● It was all business for Busch during Stage 3 once he took over the runner-up spot during the first few laps of the stage. He quietly and methodically logged laps, reporting on lap 120 that the car’s handling was “pretty good.”
● A caution on lap 124 proved to be just what the team needed as it provided an opportunity for all cars to come down pit road for service and fuel. The call was four tires and fuel for the M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry, and quick pit work handed the lead to Busch for the restart on lap 129.
● Busch was leading when a caution for debris was displayed on lap 139. The team elected to pit for four fresh tires. The majority of the field also came to pit road, while four drivers elected to stay out. Busch was the first driver to leave pit road with four fresh tires, but with a handful of drivers doing two tires only, Busch was in eighth place for the restart.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 143, and by the field came back around to complete lap 144 he was in fourth place. The car was fast and Busch was poised to make up ground to race leader Martin Truex Jr., but a series of cautions during the final 15 laps thwarted that momentum.
● Busch was able to make up one more position by the time the checkered flag waved.
● Busch led one time for 13 laps.
● Busch finished third in Stage 1 to score eight bonus points and second in Stage 2 to pick up an additional nine bonus points.
● The third-place finish is Busch’s ninth top-five and 11th top-10 finish of the 2018 season.
● Sunday’s result also marks his sixth top-five and 12th top-10 finish in 27 career starts at Pocono.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We had a really great car. The M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota was really fast and we were able to keep up with the guys we needed to – the 4 (Harvick) and the 78 (Truex Jr.) and the 42 (Larson). We were keeping up with the 4 there in that run where the caution came out, that ruined the green flag pit stop that I thought we were going to jump everyone in. And from there, we got the lead. Then after that, we were out front and leading, and they threw another debris caution. We came back down for tires and I don’t know what it was. I don’t know if it was the clouds or different tires. We couldn’t get back up through there for anything back up to those guys. It didn’t give any advantage. The fresh air didn’t mean anything today. That was frustrating and disappointing. We were on the flip side of that situation here last year where we didn’t pit and take tires and lost the race.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, June 10 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!