Date: Aug. 11, 2019
Event: Consumers Energy 400 (Round 23 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish: 22nd/6th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (892 points, 20 ahead of second)
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kyle Busch started 22nd and finished 13th.
● Busch started 22nd and worked his way slowly through the field, where he made it to 17th by lap eight.
● The Interstate Batteries driver radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he was tight with the front of the car and lacked grip with the back of the car.
● By lap 38, Busch had worked his way up to the 15th spot but still reported to the team that he had no front or rear grip and that his car was experiencing a very tight handling condition.
● Busch was called to pit road on lap 44 for two tires and an air pressure adjustment. He was able to make it up to 13th by the end of Stage 1.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Busch started fifth and finished first, earning 10 bonus points and one playoff point.
● The No. 18 pitted for left-side tires and a wedge adjustment on lap 62 following Stage 1. Busch returned to the track in the top-five for the start of Stage 2.
● The Interstate Batteries driver fell a few spots to ninth following the restart, as he reported to Stevens that he was sliding all four tires and struggling a bit with the handling overall.
● While running in sixth, Busch was called to pit road on lap 122 for right-side tires and fuel. He returned to the track in the runner-up spot behind JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr.
● Busch held his spot in second until the caution waved with four laps to go in the stage for a spin by Brad Keselowski. With some cars pitting under the yellow, Busch stayed out and restarted second behind Truex.
● The Las Vegas native was able to get a good restart, clearing Truex coming out of turn two and holding on to win Stage 2.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 121-200):
● Busch started 16th and finished sixth.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion pitted on lap 123, following the end of Stage 2, taking on two left-side tires and fuel.
● The Interstate Batteries driver restarted 16th to start the third and final stage, moving up to 12th by lap 131.
● Busch made a huge move following the lap-139 restart, edging into fifth. But just as quickly as Busch gained the spots, he lost them on yet another restart, falling back to 12th by lap 148.
● Busch pitted for the final time under caution on lap 150 and restarted 17th on what ended up being the final green-flag run of the race.
● The Interstate Batteries driver struggled with the handling of the No. 18 over the last 50 laps, telling Stevens his car was “wrecking loose” as he tried to hold on until the end of the race.
● While Busch was running in 14th, some good fortune came his way when, as the laps wound down, several drivers ahead of him who were either forced to pit for fuel or ran out of fuel. He gained six spots on the final laps because of the large amount of cars running out of fuel, as he ended up sixth.
● Even more importantly in the big picture, Joey Logano, in a battle with Busch for the regular season title, was one of those drivers who ran out of gas, while Busch gained even more important points (20 point lead) with just three races remaining in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series regular season.
● Busch’s sixth-place finish was his 19th top-10 finish of 2019 and his 12th top-10 at Michigan in 30 starts at the 2-mile oval.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Yeah, we won Stage 2 and then I had to get back in traffic there with our Interstate Batteries Camry. We were up to fifth on another restart and just got shuffled back. I’d gain three spots in the corner and then lose four spots on the straightaway, and then gain three spots in the corner and then lose four spots on the straightaway. Just could never get going right with the balance of the car, either. We just never felt right in the racetrack all day long. It was always up on top, just sliding the back or sliding the front. Really ugly, but we persevered, so thanks to all my Interstate Batteries guys for hanging in there with us today. Guys had to pit, and some guys ran out, and we finished sixth. We’ll take what we can get here and go on to Bristol.”
Team Interstate Results:
● Denny Hamlin finished second.
● Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth.
● Kyle Busch finished sixth.
● Erik Jones finished 18th.
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!