Date: Oct. 20, 2019
Event: Hollywood Casino 400 (Round 32 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR 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: 18th/3rd (Running, completed 277 of 277 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (4,046 points, Advances to Round of 8)
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kyle Busch started 18th, finished fifth.
● Busch qualified 18th, but he quickly moved up through the field at the drop of the green flag. He was up to 14th by lap four and into the top-10 by lap eight.
● The M&M’S Halloween driver picked his way up into the top-five by lap 40 and focused on reeling in the leader.
● Busch pitted for the first time on lap 46, with crew chief Adam Stevens making minimal changes. Busch had moved up to second after the green-flag pit stops had cycled through.
● The Las Vegas native looked as if he would finish second in the stage, but with seven laps to go in Stage 1, the caution waved for an accident involving Ryan Newman.
● With the untimely caution, Busch was forced to come to pit road for tires and fuel, restarting fifth for the two-lap shootout to determine the Stage 1 winner.
● On the restart, Busch was three-wide for third when a car clipped his right rear, causing some cosmetic damage. He still managed to finish fifth and earn six stage points.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Busch started 23rd, finished 10th.
● With aerodynamics being so sensitive at Kansas, Busch had to bring his M&M’S Halloween Camry to pit road so the team could repair the cosmetic damage to the right rear. He restarted 23rd to begin Stage 2.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion didn’t waste any time moving back up through the field. He cracked the top-15 by lap 81, was back into the top-10 by lap 108 and moved up to eighth by lap 110.
● The M&M’S Halloween driver reported to Stevens that his throttle was starting to stick, and he took advantage of a timely caution on lap 116 to visit pit road on lap 117. Two trips to pit road to work on the throttle issues seemed to help.
● On the negative side, the repairs forced him to restart in 22nd, at the tail end of the field.
● From the back of the pack again, Busch drove his M&M’s Halloween Toyota up through the field, making it into the top-15 by lap 136 and into 10th by lap 150, which is where he finished Stage 2.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-277):
● Busch started fifth, finished third.
● The M&M’S Halloween driver came to pit road on lap 163 following Stage 2. The No. 18 crew performed a very fast stop, moving him up five spots to restart fifth for the final stage.
● Busch quickly moved up, reaching fourth by lap 171, third by lap 180 and the runner-up spot behind JGR teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 193.
● Busch pitted on lap 217 and, following another great pit stop by the No. 18’s over-the-wall crew, found himself just 1 second behind Hamlin as he pushed to catch him over the final laps. Busch did catch Hamlin, but a caution with 14 laps to go set up a shootout for the final 10 laps.
● The M&M’s Halloween driver pitted for the final time on lap 258, taking four tires to Hamlin’s two tires. But over the course of three restarts, Busch was unable to get by Hamlin and had to settle for a solid third-place finish.
● Busch scored his 15th top-five finish of the season.
● Busch’s third-place finish was his seventh top-five and 11th top-10 finish in 24 career Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“There at the end you’re running wide open and the guys in front of you are running wide open and you can’t get enough of a run on the outside before you can throw a block. You just can’t get what you need to get at the end, but the guys put up a good fight all day. We had a lot of issues, so I hate it for everyone at M&M’s and all the Mars associates that we weren’t able to score a win for them. But we’re on to the next round, so good in the big picture of things. We can win at all the track that are in the next round. We ran really well here today with having to fix our car in final practice and it felt really good. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) was right with me there in practice so if I could get past him he probably couldn’t have gotten past me if I got the lead. It was just a matter of getting out front and in control of the race and we didn’t have control of it there at the end.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the First Data 500 on Sunday, Oct. 27 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!