Race Recap: Bank of America 500
Date: Oct. 8, 2017
Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 30 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (90 laps/90 laps/154 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/29th (Running, completed 331 of 337 laps)
Point Standing: 6th (3,055 points, 51 out of first)
Note: Race ended in overtime, going three laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):
● Kyle Busch started fourth, finished fifth.
● With the threat for rain circulating Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the start of the Bank of America 500 was moved up one hour.
● Busch’s teammate Matt Kenseth, who started second, spun his tires on the start, causing the outside lane to back up. By the time the field came around to complete lap one, Busch had fallen to sixth place.
● After a few laps Busch reported that the right-front tire felt like it was sliding like a “snow ski.” The team made a trip to pit road during the competition caution on lap 35 to change four tires, add fuel and make some minor adjustments. Busch restarted from fourth place but spun his tires at the start and dropped to seventh place.
● Busch had raced his way back to fifth place as Stage 1 drew to a close. He noted that the Interstate Batteries Toyota was too loose in traffic and that when it came to navigating the turns, the car had so much rear grip that it overpowered the left front and made the car too tight. The team made a chassis adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel at the end of Stage 1. Quick pit work placed Busch on the outside of row one for the restart.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-180):
● Started second, finished 31st.
● The Interstate Batteries driver wasted no time making a bid for the lead, taking over the top spot as the field came around to complete the first green-flag lap of Stage 2. He maintained the top spot through to the next caution on lap 116. Quick pit work allowed him to maintain first place, but after a brief duel with Kevin Harvick during the restart, Busch settled into a comfortable pace in second place.
● Busch was maintaining the runner-up spot until he got into the outside retaining wall on lap 137. While the damage was substantial, Busch was able to navigate the Interstate Batteries Toyota to the attention of the crew on pit road. The team worked to make repairs during the five minutes NASCAR allots in those situations. The team’s goal was to repair the damage enough so that Busch could make minimum speed once green-flag racing resumed. He was in 32nd place when the race returned to green-flag conditions and was able to continue after making minimum speed.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion had his hands full during the next several circuits as the car was handling on the loose side all the way around the track. He was in 31st place by the time Stage 2 came to an end.
● The team used the break between stages to make more repairs to the No. 18 Toyota. Busch was scored two laps down in 32nd place when he returned to the track.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 181-334):
● Started 32nd, finished 29th.
● Busch cautiously navigated the 1.5-mile track during Stage 3, trying to run as many laps as possible and ideally pick up positions as other teams had problems.
● It was just past lap 200 when Busch made contact with the outside wall again. He was able to keep driving but brought the car to pit road for the team to pull out sheet metal, change four tires and add fuel. He returned to the track in 32nd place and lost two more laps to the race leaders.
● The Las Vegas native was quietly logging laps as the race wound down, but on lap 327 the No. 18 Toyota broke loose and sustained more damage after contact with the retaining wall. Despite the additional damage Busch was able to drive the car to pit road where the team once again went to work on the quarter panels, changed four tires and added fuel.
● Busch returned to the track in 29th place and maintained the spot to the finish.
Team Interstate Results:
● Denny Hamlin finished fourth.
● Daniel Suarez finished sixth.
● Matt Kenseth finished 11th.
● Kyle Busch finished 29th.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How are you after being overheated at the end of the race?
“I’m all right, I’m better now. I got heat soaked and felt like I had heat stroke just from being inside the race car for 200 laps with the crush panels knocked out of it. Obviously, it was my bad, just trying to get a little too much too early in the race and got too high out of the groove. I got myself into the fence and tore the right side off of it. My guys did a great job trying to rebound and get it back together as much as we could throughout the day. It was just evil out there the rest of the day trying to stay with a relative pace with the rest of the field. We were just kind of hanging on with our Interstate Batteries Camry. After I first tore it up, it was just a handful from there. Literally as soon as I did it, just coasting around under caution I could feel it being about 50 degrees hotter inside the car. It just got so hot so was really just trying to make it to the end of the race, and luckily we did. From there, just trying to get cooled down and get body temperature back to normal.”
● Busch led two times for a total of 22 laps.
● Due to the damage sustained during the initial incident, temperatures in the car rose significantly throughout the final 200 laps of the race. Due to the extreme heat, Busch required medical attention at the conclusion of the event. He went to the infield care center where he was treated and released.
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Alabama 500 on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.