Race Recap for the AAA Texas 500

Date: Nov. 4, 2018
Event: AAA Texas 500 (Round 34 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (85 laps/85 laps/164 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/17th (Running, completed 337 of 337 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd with 4,128 points (28 points inside the top-four cutoff)

Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Race Winner:      Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford) 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):

● Kyle Busch started 10th, finished seventh.

● After starting 10th, Busch steadily moved up through the field, finding himself in eighth by lap two and fifth by the time the competition yellow flew on lap 30.

● Busch came to pit road to the attention of the M&M’S crew on lap 32 but was penalized by NASCAR for entering pit road too fast, sending him to the rear of the field. He restarted 24th on lap 36.

● The 2015 Cup Series champion went to work from there, passing cars at a rapid pace. He was in the top-15 by lap 44 and up to the top-10 by lap 50.

● When the stage ended, Busch crossed the line in seventh, capping an impressive rally from the pit-road speeding penalty to score precious stage points.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):

● Busch started seventh, finished 25th.

● Busch pitted on lap 88 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment, putting him seventh on the ensuing restart.

● The No. 18 fell back a few spots, with Busch saying that his car did not hold on like it had the previous run.

● Crew chief Adam Stevens called Busch to pit road under green for four tires and to take the previous air pressure adjustment back out on lap 133. However, just a few laps later Busch radioed to the team that he had a vibration.

● Busch was forced to bring his M&M’S Camry to pit road on lap 141 for the issue with the vibration, sending him back out in 29th two laps down.

● By the end of the stage, Busch had gotten one lap back and finished in 25th.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 171-334):

● Busch started 21st, finished 17th.

● Stevens elected to leave Busch out to take the wave-around and get him back on the lead lap, as the lead lap cars pitted for tires and fuel.

● Busch held onto 17th for much of the opening part of the final stage, having to finally pit on lap 209 for fuel and tires as he pushed his fuel capacity to its very limit.

● Busch sat two laps down after pitting off sequence and hoped to not have a caution before the leaders needed to pit for fuel.

● However, Busch had some bad luck strike as the caution waved for an accident involving his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez, who made contact with the wall on lap 226.

● Busch stayed out yet again under caution and took the wave-around, putting him just one lap down. He then raced to get into the “lucky dog” spot as the first car one lap down in position to get back on the lead lap if a caution were to wave.

● Over the course of the final 85 laps, Busch got close to the lucky dog position but didn’t finally get back on the lead lap until the caution waved with just four laps remaining. All Busch could do was ride around for the final laps and bring home a 17th-place finish. 

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“It was a tough day with our M&M’S Camry. We had the loose wheel and had to come back down, and we just couldn’t get the cautions to fall our way to get our way back on the lead lap. Had the caution come out before the leaders had pitted two different times and just ran out of time. We’ll head to Phoenix and try and get a solid finish there.”

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Can-Am 500k on Sunday, Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race to make the Championship 4. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on NBC.