Busch Finishes Third at Phoenix Raceway

Date: March 8, 2020
Event: FanShield 500 (Round 4 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile tri-oval)
Format: 312 laps (Stages: 75 laps / 115 laps / 122 laps)
Start / Finish: 10th /3rd (Completed 316 of 316 laps)
Point Standings: 12th

Race Winner:  Joey Logano

Stage 1 Winner:   Kevin Harvick

Stage 2 Winner:   Brad Keselowski       

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75)

  • Kyle Busch started 10th and finished fifth.
  • Under sunny skies, the FanShield 500 got underway with Busch rolling off from the 10th position.
  • On lap eight Busch made his first report, noting the car was handling on the loose side off which made it very difficult to pass.
  • The Sport Clips driver worked his way by his brother Kurt Busch on lap 20 and raced there until the first caution flag flew on lap 58 for a multi-car incident in Turn 2.
  • A quick pit stop by the Sport Clips over-the-wall crew gained Busch two positions and allowed him to restart seventh when the race resumed on lap 64
  • On the restart with only nine laps remaining in Stage 1, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to slice and dice his way to fifth before the green/checkered flag flew to indicate the end of Stage 1. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-190)

  • Started fourth and finished fifth  
  • The reigning NSC champion quickly picked up one position on the restart and was running third and gaining on the leaders.
  • On lap 100, while running fifth, Busch informed his crew chief Adam Stevens that his Sport Clips Camry was loose to start a run and got really tight and lost grip late in the run.
  • A caution flag flew on lap 131, giving Stevens the chance to help improve the handling on the No. 18 Sport Clips Camry. Busch hit pit road for four tires, fuel and a round of adjustments. He restarted fourth on lap 138
  • Busch continued to run in the top five as the race wore on and the black and red Camry was scored fifth when a caution on lap 189 ended the stage under yellow. 
  • Another solid pit stop by the No.18 pit crew allowed Busch to restart fourth to begin the final stage of the race.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 191-316)

  • Started fourth and finished third
  • Busch started the final stage at Phoenix Raceway in the fourth position. On the restart the veteran driver battled with his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. for the position. On lap 209, the Las Vegas, Nevada prevailed and was able to clear his teammate and was listed fourth on the scoring pylon. 
  • As the car’s handling started to balance, Busch was able to gain ground on the leaders.
  • The Sport Clips driver continued to run inside the top five for much of the final stage before a number of cautions and different pit strategies shuffled the running order. Several teams including the No.18 pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments during the lap 266 caution. When several drivers opted to stay on the racetrack, Busch restarted 13th with under 40 laps remaining.
  • On the restart, Busch rocketed toward the front and was listed third on lap 275 and second just one lap later.
  • The championship driver maintained his position in the top five as several caution flags flew in the closing laps. The final yellow waved on lap 309 forcing the race into overtime. On the final restart, Busch had a chance at the lead but couldn’t make the pass stick. He crossed the finish line third.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What is your takeaway from this package here this weekend?

“I don’t know. Just really want to thank my guys. We unloaded and we weren’t very good. I didn’t think, I wasn’t too optimistic for the race and rightfully so. I think we probably had a sixth or seventh place car, but we had a lot of strategy there at the end with tires and all that sort of stuff – good restarts and being able to make time up on the bottom. Once you get that close to the front, you can’t make up that time anymore so that’s kind of where we lost our ground there. It’s good to come home third with this Sport Clips Camry. Really appreciate Sport Clips and having them on board with us here this year. One-off deal for them. Hopefully we got everything we can get for them. I’m going to go get a haircut this Monday – get a haircut and also focus on what we have to do next week. We need to come back here with a better piece.” 

How was the race today?

“It was okay, just different. There at the end obviously, making up some good spots on the bottom when everybody would get bottled up there mid-pack, but once you get closer to the front, it’s hard to make up those spots anymore on the bottom anymore like we were. Just want to thank everybody on this Sport Clips Camry. The guys did a great job.  We weren’t very good when we unloaded, we made a lot of ground, but still not enough ground as I would have wanted to race with some of the top guys. I felt like we were a fifth or sixth place car probably and we were able to come out with a third. Good for us with that effort. We need some points right now. We have to climb the ladder back and get back where we need to be.”


Next Up: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Hampton, Georgia next weekend for the season’s fifth race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live Sunday, March 15th at 2 p.m. ET on FOX. ]