Date: July 13, 2019
Event: Quaker State 400 (Round 19 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/2nd (Running, completed 269 of 269 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (717 points, 13 behind leader)
Note: Race extended two laps past its scheduled 267-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kyle Busch started 10th, finished third.
● Busch started the race in 10th, but he methodically moved his way up through the field, making it up to the seventh spot by lap 47, when the caution waved for debris.
● The M&M’S driver told crew chief Adam Stevens that he was tight in traffic, with his biggest issue being in turns three and four.
● Stevens called Busch to pit road on lap 49, where he took on two tires along with an air pressure adjustment before restarting fifth on lap 53.
● Busch moved his way up to third by the lap-67 restart and settled into that same spot for the remainder of the first stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Busch started eighth, finished first.
● The M&M’S driver pitted following the stage, taking left-side tires and fuel on lap 83.
● Busch restarted eighth behind the seven cars that did not pit following the stage.
● The Las Vegas native didn’t take long to dispatch the cars ahead of him, as he moved up to third by lap 97 and to the lead past Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on lap 104.
● From there, Busch had smooth sailing and built a large lead. He pitted with 10 laps to go in Stage 2 for tires and fuel, returned to the track ahead of everyone else and took home the stage win.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-269):
● Busch started fifth, finished second.
● Busch pitted following the end of Stage 2 on lap 163 for fuel only, then restarted fifth for the third and final stage.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champ settled into the top-three early in Stage 3, but he radioed to Stevens that his car wasn’t handling as well and was chattering the rear tires in the corners.
● Busch continued to battle with the leaders over the next segment of the race and finally reassumed the lead when his brother Kurt Busch pitted on lap 213.
● Kyle Busch held the lead until Joey Logano tracked him down and got by him on lap 247. Busch radioed to Stevens that his car was plowing tight.
● As Logano was pulling away and the laps wound down, the caution waved for a spin by Darrell Wallace Jr., setting up a two-lap shootout for the win.
● Busch shot ahead of Logano coming out of turn two on the first lap of the restart and made it three-wide with Kurt Busch and JGR teammate Erik Jones. By the time the white flag flew, both Kyle and Kurt Busch were side by side racing for the win. But Kurt Busch had fresher tires and was able to sneak by Kyle Busch in turns three and four to bring home the victory.
● The finish was Busch’s 11th top-five result of 2019.
● This is Busch’s seventh top-five and eighth top-10 finish at Kentucky in just nine starts.
● The 1-2 finish for the Busch brothers was their third 1-2 result in a Cup Series race, but it was the first time Kurt bested his younger brother, as Kyle beat Kurt at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 2015 and also reached the finish ahead of his older brother at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this past March.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Glad it was a thriller. It’s just unfortunate we were on the wrong end of the deal for everybody at M&M’S and Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all the folks that get us to where we’re at. Congratulations to Kurt (Busch) and Chip (Ganassi) and Monster, all the guys over there. It’s obviously cool to put on great races and great finishes, and I’ve been a part of a lot of them and not very many, in fact none, with my brother like that. That was a first. No hard feelings.”
How big of a difference was it that Kurt Busch had four fresh tires on that last restart?
“I didn’t know that they had four tires. I guess that probably had some of the difference. I knew I cleared him into (turn) three and if I just stayed in the gas I was never going to make the exit, I was going to plow the fence, but maybe I should have just gotten in front of him and messed up his air. It’s so easy to do with these cars. It’s pretty much just air games. I missed my chance over there, I guess. That’s about all I could really have done different.”
Take us through that final lap. What happened?
“I don’t know. Kurt got on my door off of (turn) two there and got a run down the backstretch, and I didn’t have enough of a run back on him into three to clear him soon enough. I know I cleared him, but I knew I wasn’t going to make the exit if I tried to jump up in front of him and mess up his air, so I just tried to get as close as I could to him and side draft him. He just had too much momentum going by me on the outside. I was just way too tight. We didn’t make good adjustments there on the last run, so that’s why we lost the lead to the 22 (Joey Logano) and ultimately weren’t in the right position to be able to win the race.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!