Date: May 26, 2019
Event: Coca-Cola 600 (Round 13 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into four stages (100 laps/100 laps/100 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 3rd/3rd (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (519 points, tied with Joey Logano)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 3 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Kyle Busch started third and finished third.
● The M&M’S Red, White and Blue driver quietly logged laps until the first caution on lap 22. He was in second place and noted that the car was handling on the loose side. Anticipating that as the day transitioned to evening the car would start to handle more on the tight side, they elected to change four tires and add fuel without changes. Quick pit work placed Busch in first for the restart on lap 27.
● Caution waved again on lap 44 for a single-car accident. Busch was in the lead, reporting that the No. 18 continued to handle on the loose side. Once again the team elected to just change tires and add fuel.
● Busch restarted the race in second place and quickly reassumed the top spot, but he dropped back to third just a few laps later. He would lose a handful of positions as Stage 1 continued.
● The loose-handling issue persisted on the M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota. After a series of cautions Busch was able to race his way back to third place by the end of Stage 1.
● Busch stayed out on the track along with a number of other cars during the stage break, placing him in third place for the start of Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Busch started third and finished third.
● During the restart Busch was shuffled back in the running order, landing in seventh place by lap 115. He had raced back to the top-five by the time caution waved on lap 126. He reported the car was still too free. The team made an air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel.
● The Las Vegas native quietly logged laps during the next several circuits around the 1.5-mile oval and was in third place when caution was displayed on lap 160. The loose condition persisted, so the team made another air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. A problem with pit equipment resulted in Busch losing a handful of spots during the trip to pit road, placing him in seventh place for the restart on lap 165.
● The race was slowed by caution again on lap 190. Busch gave up the fifth position to come to pit road for four tires and fuel. He was among the first to exit pit road, but a number of cars had stayed out, so the No. 18 restarted the race in 14th place on lap 193.
● Busch raced from 14th to third during the final seven laps of Stage 2. Because they had just stopped prior to the conclusion of Stage 2, the M&M’S Red, White and Blue team elected to stay out during the break, placing Busch in first place to start Stage 3.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-300):
● Busch started first and finished second.
● Busch was in the lead to start Stage 3, and throughout the early part of the stage his car looked like the one to beat. He managed to stretch his lead despite handling issues that continued to plague the M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion maintained the top spot until coming to pit road during a caution on lap 250. The team spent a little more time trying to improve the car’s handling with a chassis adjustment while changing four tires and adding fuel. Busch restarted in second place on lap 257.
● As Stage 3 progressed, Busch said the car’s handling had trended to the tight side. The stage finished without incident with Busch in second place.
● The team went to work on the car again, making another chassis adjustment, changing four tires and adding fuel. The work once again took a little time, which resulted in Busch exiting pit road in third place.
Stage 4 Recap (Laps 301-400):
● Busch started third and finished third.
● Green-flag racing resumed at the start of Stage 4, and Busch once again was shuffled back a bit at the restart.
● Busch was in eighth place when the No. 1 car started spinning across the track and clipped the No. 18 Toyota. The damage was contained to the passenger side door area, but Busch lost a lot of track position to come to pit road for repairs.
● After some quick work on pit road Busch returned to the track in 21st place in time for the restart on lap 314. He quickly set to the work of racing his way back to the front of the field and was in 14th place when caution waved again on lap 317 for a multicar accident.
● Crew chief Adam Stevens called Busch to pit road for tires, fuel and a little more maintenance to the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry. He went back onto the track in 14th place for the restart.
● Busch raced his way back into the top-10 and was making a run for the top-five when he brushed the outside wall on lap 355. The damage turned out to be minimal, and Busch was in seventh place just four laps later when caution waved.
● During the next several laps Busch raced back among the top-five and was in third place on lap 390 when caution waved. All but one of the lead-lap cars came to pit road for service. Busch restarted the race in fourth place and briefly made a bid for the lead in a four-wide move before settling back in fourth place. He was able to pick up one more position before the checkered flag waved for teammate Martin Truex Jr.
● Busch led four times for a total of 79 laps.
● Busch has regained the championship point lead, but he shares it with Joey Logano. Both have 519 points and a 41-point advantage over second-place Kevin Harvick.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“I thought we had a second-place car tonight. If we would have gotten in behind the 19 (Truex) on that last restart I never would have passed him. I thought I could get the 22 (Logano), but the 22 was fast at the end. I don’t know. Frustrating for how challenging it is. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining about that, but overall our M&M’S Red, White and Blue Camry was fast. It had good speed, just not the 19 car speed. I don’t know what the 19 had different than us, but they were way faster.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Pocono 400 on Sunday, June 2 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!