Event: Hollywood Casino 400 (Round 32 of 36)
Series: Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th/2nd (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (4,055 points, ADVANCES TO ROUND OF 8)
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kyle Busch started seventh, finished fourth.
● Busch rolled off for the second elimination race of the playoffs in seventh and settled into his starting spot until his first pit stop of the race. The M&M’S Halloween team had quick service on the lap-49, green-flag pit stop, vaulting the No. 18 from eighth to fifth once it returned to the track.
● Busch radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he was happy with the car’s handling.
● He eventually worked his way around Aric Almirola to grab the fourth spot, and that’s where he finished the first stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Busch started third, finished fifth.
● At the start of the second stage, Busch reported his car was tight from the center of the corner through the exit, so Stevens dialed up an air pressure adjustment on the lap-83 pit stop in hopes of fixing the tight condition.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion started Stage 2 in third but fell to fourth by the lap-122 pit stop.
● The M&M’S Halloween driver dropped one more spot and finished the stage in fifth on lap 160.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Busch started eighth, finished second.
● When the M&M’S Halloween driver pitted on lap 163, Stevens made a wedge and air pressure adjustments in hopes of fixing the tight condition.
● The changes seemed to work; Busch moved up through the field, running in fifth by lap 200 and up to third by lap 208.
● Busch pitted for the final time on lap 213, and after pit stops cycled through, he was in second and trying to catch leader Chase Elliott.
● The M&M’S Halloween driver kept getting closer and closer as the laps wound down. He took almost three seconds off of Elliott’s advantage, but in the end, Busch couldn’t get much closer than a half-second. He settled for a solid second-place run that locked him into the Round of 8 of the 2018 playoffs.
● Busch scored his 19th top-five finish of the season, which is two more top-five’s than his previous career high of 17 that came in both 2008 and 2016.
● Busch’s runner-up finish was his sixth top-five and 10th top-10 finish in 22 career Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway.
● Busch not only advanced to the next round of the playoffs, the Round of 8, but he sits as the points leader with one more playoff point than second-place Kevin Harvick.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Were you thinking you could get to Chase Elliott and take the lead?
“I did, once that big group of lapped cars kind of messed him (Elliott) up and then they kind of let me go. I thought I had a good enough roll there going on the top side that I could get there hopefully before I got too tight or before he jumped up in front of me. He ran a really good line and was able to just kind of keep pace – the pace that he needed to run to keep the car underneath. When I was running high and running up against the wall, it just built too tight too early in the run, and it was going to be a struggle to get by him, that’s for sure. Overall, just proud of the effort by all these M&M’S guys. We haven’t quite run like this here in the last little bit, so it’s nice to be able to come out here with a strong run, especially with kind of what we think we have going on for Texas and Homestead with it being a 1.5-mile. Pretty good run for us. Obviously, Halloween’s coming up everybody, so make sure you pick up your M&M’s product at your local stores and get ready for some Halloween, some trick or treat. We’re excited about that, too.”
What more did you need out of the racecar to win today?
“We got too tight there on that long run. I knew it was going to get tight, it was just a matter of whether or not I could get there and get by him (Elliott) first. Running the top like that, it just inherently creates tightness in the racecar. The sooner you get up there, the longer you’re up there, and it just gets that much tighter. Chase did a good job of having that big of a gap that he didn’t have to go up there so early, and he had a little bit better tire there when I got to him. He was able to move down a little bit and keep rolling with the speed. I just couldn’t do it that way. We come home second today. That’s just kind of all there is it to it. I didn’t think we were going to have a second-place car. When we here at the test, the 9 (Elliott) was actually right on line with us – maybe even a tick better at times during the test when we were here, so they’ve had a fast car here for a while.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the First Data 500 on Sunday, Oct. 28 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!