Rowdy Wins At New Hampshire
Date: Sept. 24, 2017
Event: ISM Connect 300 (Round 28 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Format: 300 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/150 laps)
Start/Finish: 1st/1st (Running, completed 300 of 300 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd with 2,119 points, 30 out of first, locked into Round of 12 of the Playoffs
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):
● Kyle Busch started first, finished third.
● Busch started the race from the top spot and quietly logged laps. While all was quiet on the radio, Busch had set a blistering pace and started putting cars in the lap-down category by lap 11. He maintained the top spot until Martin Truex Jr. passed him on lap 40. Shortly after giving up the lead, Busch reported that the car was too free in the top line and he was losing grip in the left rear.
● A few laps later, the M&M’S Caramel Camry driver gave up one more position and spent the rest of the segment cautiously logging laps before finishing third.
● In an effort to improve the handling, the team made wedge and air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel during the caution.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):
● Busch started second, finished first.
● The Las Vegas native started Stage 2 in second place. He stalked race leader Truex during the opening laps and appeared to make a bid for the lead halfway through the segment before settling into a comfortable pace.
● As the stage drew closer to conclusion, Busch reported that the car was handling better in the rear but that he lacked grip in the right front. As a means to create grip while not tightening the car too much, the team elected to go back a bit on the changes made earlier in the race.
● Before Busch had the opportunity to pit, an accident unfolded on the backstretch during the last lap of Stage 2 that collected a number of cars, including race leader Truex. Busch snaked his way through the melee and went on to win Stage 2.
● During the caution the team made slight adjustments to wedge and air pressure, changed four tires and added fuel. Quick pit work allowed Busch to win the race off pit road and retain the race lead.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 151-300):
● Busch started first, finished first.
● Busch started Stage 3 from the top spot and jumped out to a decent lead as cars behind him raced for position. He noted that the car’s handling had improved somewhat but that it was starting to trend toward the tight side. While the condition persisted as the run continued, Busch maintained a stronghold on the top spot for the next several laps.
● Caution waved on lap 219 for debris. The team used the opportunity to free up the car’s handling, adjusting wedge and air pressure, changing four tires and adding fuel. Busch won the race off pit road to maintain the top spot.
● Over the course of the final three restarts, Busch showed his muscle as one of the best at restarts in the series. Busch ended up leading the final 32 circuits to win and advance himself to the Round of 12 in the 2017 playoffs.
● Busch won the ISM Connect 300 to score his 41st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his third at New Hampshire. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was 2.641 seconds.
● The No. 18 led three times for a race-high 187 laps.
● Busch brought home his first playoff win since his championship-clinching win at Homestead in November of 2015.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Is it nice to know you’re moving on to the next round of the Playoffs?
“It is, and it’s just a testament to this team and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. I mean, it’s fun to drive these Toyota Camrys with how fast they are and, you know, it’s a great opportunity for us to put them in victory lane when we can, so I can’t say enough about M&M’S and M&M’S Caramel, of course Interstate Batteries, Toyota, NOS Energy Drink and Cessna, DVX Sunglasses, Snickers, Skittles, all of our partners. It’s just a – it’s an awesome day for us, and we always want to say that we’re remembering those that we’ve lost before us; and Ted Christopher, who passed this week, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with his family. And, of course, certainly want to say thanks to the fans and what they all mean to this New England area and being able to come out and support this track.”
Were you worried on the last restarts?
“You’re always concerned. I mean, definitely those are the things that mess you up or take your opportunity for victory away and just had to be – you had to do a good job, and I had to make sure that I did everything right and don’t spin the tires, don’t mess up, don’t go too early, don’t go too late – all those sorts of things – and it just kind of worked in our favor there. We obviously restarted next to (Martin) Truex (Jr.), got the lead right off of that restart, and they kind of waded up behind us, obviously causing the yellow, and that just allowed us to have control of the race thereafter with our fresh tires, so that was probably the key to the race and being able to control the rest of it.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Apache Warrior 400 on Sunday, Oct. 1 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.