Frustrating Chain of Events Lead to 25th-Place Finish for Busch at Phoenix
Date: March 14, 2021
Event: Instacart 500 (Round 5 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile tri-oval)
Format: 312 laps (Stages 75 laps / 115 laps / 122 laps)
Start / Finish: 7th / 25th (Running, Completed 311 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 14th (138 points, -89 points out of first)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 75)
- Kyle Busch had a solid top-10 start to the 312-lap race at Phoenix, making it his best starting position thus far this season.
- Busch struggled with a tight-handling Toyota Camry throughout the first 25 laps. On lap 28, Busch scuffed the wall and received minor damage to the right side of his rear wheel well. Busch brought his STANLEY machine to pit road during the competition caution for fresh tires, fuel and a round of air pressure adjustments.
- By lap 42, Busch was running top-five lap times. When the yellow flag waved on lap 45, Crew Chief Ben Beshore called Busch to pit road for a four-tire stop and another round of adjustments. Although the leaders didn’t pit, Busch put his fresh Goodyear tires to work and battled his way from 18th position into the top five.
- At the end of the stage, Busch told Beshore that the previous adjustments had helped free up his Camry, but it was still lacking side bite. Scoring a sixth-place stage finish, Beshore called for another round of air pressure adjustments, fresh tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76 – 190)
- Busch started out with a strong top-10 position for stage two.
- Feedback from Busch to Beshore was positive up until lap 125 when he reported a loose-handling Toyota Camry. Still running in the top 10, Beshore called the STANLEY Camry to pit road with 51 laps remaining in the stage.
- After four tires and a round of adjustments, the No. 18 team got hit with an uncontrolled tire penalty on pit road, forcing Busch to serve a pass-through penalty, which put him -1 lap.
- By the end of the stage, Busch reported that his Toyota Camry was getting worse. The crew went to work during the stage break caution to address the concerns that Busch had. The No. 18 STANLEY team concluded stage two in 27th position, -1 lap down.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 191 – 312)
- A discouraged Busch started the final stage of the race in 25thposition. Shortly after the restart, he found himself in the free pass position and anxiously awaited for a yellow flag to wave.
- By lap 260, Busch had scuffed the wall once again and Beshore called him to pit road for a quick green-flag pit stop. Unfortunately, while exiting pit road, a caution came out, which forced Busch -2 laps down. Busch was able to take the wave around shortly after, which placed him in 26th position, -1 lap down.
- On lap 281, while in the free pass position, Busch got loose on throttle and checked up, which caused a competitor to get into his rear and provoke a spin. The caution flag waved, and with minimal damage, Busch made his way back to pit road for four fresh tires.
- With a challenging 25 laps ahead of him, Busch worked his way back into the free pass position, but unfortunately, time was not on his side and he crossed the finish line in the 25th position, -1 lap.
Kyle Busch – Driver of the No. 18 STANLEY Toyota Camry
Finishing Position: 25th
“It was a long day with our STANLEY Camry. Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the guys made a lot of changes the first half of the race, but having the pit road penalty there put us back in traffic and we just couldn’t quite dig out of the hole all day. We were in the lucky dog position a few times, but the cautions didn’t fall at the right time. We’ll get back to work and hope to have a better finish at Atlanta.