All-Star Race Recap
Date: May 20, 2017
Event: Monster Energy All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 2nd/1st (Running, completed 70 of 70 laps)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):
● Kyle Busch started second, finished second.
● The M&M’S Caramel driver qualified a strong second on Friday night. Busch settled into the runner-up spot for the entire first stage and finished in that spot behind Stage 1 winner Kyle Larson.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):
● Busch started second, finished third.
● Strong work on pit road helped Busch maintain his position in second for the ensuing restart.
● Busch raced hard with seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson in the second stage, but with Johnson on the faster “option” tires, he made his way around Busch for the second spot, and Busch settled into third to finish the stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 41-60):
● Busch started fifth, finished sixth.
● Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens elected to put on the green “option” tires for the third stage, but the soft tires didn’t mesh as well with Busch’s M&M’S Caramel Toyota as they did with the cars of some of his competitors. Busch dropped one spot to sixth as he fought with the handling of the rear of his racecar.
Stage 4 Recap (Laps 61-70):
● Busch started third, finished first.
● The final 10-lap shootout was set up with cars lined up by their average finish in the first three stages.
● Busch had the third-best average finish and entered pit road in that position. There, the M&M’S Caramel team performed yet another great stop to send him off as the second car to leave pit road.
● Driver Brad Keselowski elected to stay out instead of pit, so he restarted first on old tires on the inside line right in front of Busch, who restarted third in the final 10-lap stage.
● On the restart, Busch showed his signature restart ability, jumping to the inside of Keselowski and to the lead heading into turn one.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion held the lead to bring home his first career win in NASCAR’s All-Star event.
● Busch led the final 10 laps of Saturday night’s All-Star race to bring his total laps led to 217 in the non-points event.
● This is Busch’s first victory in his 12th start in the All-Star Race, the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win. The previous record was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
● The All-Star win is also Busch’s first Cup Series victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
● The All-Star race was the first race for the new M&M’S Caramel brand, which launched in stores this month and will be primary sponsor of Busch’s No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota in 12 more races this season.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Why is this win so special?
“It’s the All-Star race for one, and for two, we’ve never won at Charlotte in a Cup car, so we finally achieved that goal tonight and won the All-Star race and won a million bucks, so there’s reason to celebrate and to celebrate big. I can’t say enough about this team, everybody on this M&M’S Camry, this M&M’S Caramel Camry this week. First race, first win for those M&M’S Caramel. Being a whole new product and being on the shelves here in May, it’s a whole new launch and a whole new program and it’s here to stay, so everybody pick up your Caramel. I also can’t say enough about Adam Stevens. You have Adam Stevens and these guys in the pit box, and you can rely on them all day long. I had to do that tonight. You know we weren’t quite the fastest car, but we made the right changes when it mattered most. We made the right moves when it mattered most, and we got the most out of our night tonight and got here to victory lane. Feel so relieved, alluded, proud and excited all in the same time.”
Were you excited with how you lined up on that last restart?
“Yeah, I was excited and I wasn’t excited, you know, all at the same time. I thought Jimmie (Johnson) was in the catbird seat. I got just a good-enough launch and a good restart there to get some traction going on the 2 (Brad Keselowski) car, and when I got to start-finish I had to pull out and move to the bottom in order to get below them, and that all worked. He left me enough room at the second kink, and we just checked out from there. It wasn’t the fastest car that won tonight, but it was certainly the best crew, pit crew, Adam Stevens crew chief, everybody that works on this car to give me a good piece each and every week.”
Finally was the word you used after the helmet came off. How does it feel to get your first Cup win here?
“One of the words out, yes, was finally. There might have been another f word in there, but certainly it’s just a true testament to how hard we all work. I mean everybody in this sport does, but man I’ve just been trying here for so long, and the right circumstances came our way tonight.”
Next Up: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to points-paying racing on Sunday, May 28, with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The longest race on the Cup Series schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.