Date: April 28, 2019
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 10 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (55 laps/55 laps/78 laps)
Start/Finish: 22nd/10th (Running, completed 188 of 188 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (430 points, 15 ahead of second)
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):
● Kyle Busch started 22nd and finished the stage ninth.
● Before the race went green, Busch had to go to the rear of the field due to an adjustment made to the car after qualifying.
● However, Busch didn’t keep the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry at the back for long. He moved up to 17th by lap 10, but he radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he lacked some rear grip.
● With the caution waving after a lap-10 accident that did not involve Busch, he was called to pit road for fuel only, but he was assessed a pit road penalty for speeding, which again sent him to the rear of the field.
● Busch made quick work of the field ahead of him, and in just four laps he moved up to seventh place. He moved into the top-five until the closing laps of the first stage but had dropped to ninth as the stage concluded.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):
● Busch started 15th and finished 10th.
● Busch was forced to pit before pit road opened because the No. 18 was running out of fuel, so again he was assessed a penalty and sent to the rear of the field for the third time. Several other cars were in the same position, and the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry restarted 15th.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion again moved right back up through the field, making it to 10th by lap 62.
● Busch had the lead briefly and sat within the top-five until about 10 laps to go in the stage, when he dropped back just outside the top-10.
● The Las Vegas native managed to move up a few positions on the final lap of the stage and finished in the 10th spot.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 111-188):
● Busch started fourth and finished 10th.
● Busch came to pit road to the attention of the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry team, where they changed four tires and added fuel. He managed to gain an impressive six spots on pit road, Busch restarting fourth for the third and final stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race.
● Busch restarted fourth, but Brad Keselowski’s position at the right rear of Busch’s Toyota made the No. 18 loose. Busch fell all the way back to 27th, but still he battled back, moving up to 17th by lap 121 and 14th by lap 124.
● He kept battling and maneuvered his way into the top-five and then the second spot as the laps wound down.
● With six laps remaining, the caution waved for a multicar wreck behind Busch as he sat in the second spot behind race leader Joey Logano.
● After a lengthy red flag for cleanup, Busch restarted second, but staying there was a tall order with no other Toyota teammates in the top-20. Busch quickly was shuffled out of pack, as other manufacturers worked together and Busch ran on his own with many of his Toyota teammates involved in accidents. All he could do was bring home his M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota with another top-10 finish.
● Busch led three times for a total of four laps.
● Busch recorded his 10th top-10 finish of the season and his eighth top-10 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in 28 starts.
● The M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver continued his top-10 streak for the season. His top-10s for 2019’s first 10 races now rank one behind Morgan Shepherd, who finished in the top-10 for the first 11 races of the 1990 season, which is the record for NASCAR’s modern era.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What happened on the final restart that shuffled you from second back to the 10th position?
“We restarted outside the front row and I thought the 1 (Kurt Busch) behind me would want to race for the win and not just fall in line behind Fords and in front of Chevrolets and he would go with us a little bit there. Team order prevailed, I guess. That kind of sucked. We weren’t able to have the run. As soon as he bailed off from behind me, then two others behind me got doublewide and then it just sucked me six rows back. I had to try to recover after that, and all I could get was whatever I got. We had a good M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry, but the caution hurt us with no numbers with us up front.”
Was there more blocking than expected in the race?
“When you got older on tires and cars started to ill-handle a little bit, it was interesting. We got more downforce, and yet the cars are driving worse. I don’t know how that’s possible. It was just interesting how you could be all over the place and not just be stuck. Guys were moving a little bit, you could make some moves a little bit. There was a section of the race where the bottom lane didn’t move anywhere and the top lane didn’t move anywhere – we were stuck where we were at for like eight laps. That was about all I really saw.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Gander RV 400 on Sunday, May 5 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!