Darlington

Race Recap for the Bojangles' Southern 500

Date:  Sept. 2, 2018
Event:  Bojangles’ Southern 500 (Round 25 of 36)
Series:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile egg-shaped oval)
Format:  367 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/167 laps)
Start/Finish:  5th /7th (Running, completed 367 of 367 laps)
Point Standing:  1st (1,038 points, 39 ahead of second)

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

● Kyle Buschstarted fifth and finished ninth.

● After starting in the fifth position Busch dropped to ninth place by lap nine, reporting that the car was “absolutely plowing.”

● As the race continued, lap times started to fall off for cars at the front of the field while Busch’s lap times remained more consistent. This enabled him to close the gap, and he was in seventh place by lap 32.

● The Skittles Toyota driver reported that the car was too loose. He made a green-flag pit stop on lap 48, allowing the team to make a round of air pressure adjustments, change four tires and add fuel. Green-flag stops cycled through on lap 50 with Busch in eighth place.

● The loose handling persisted during the long run to the end of Stage 1. Busch was in ninth place at the conclusion of the first stage.

● During the break the team made another round of air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):

● Started eighth and finished eighth.

● Busch was quiet during the opening laps of Stage 2 as he picked up a couple positions, moving into sixth place by lap 120.

● While running in sixth on lap 127, the 2015 Cup Series champion made contact with a lap-down car. The No. 18 Skittles Toyota suffered slight damage to the right-front nose of the car that required an extra trip to pit road for repairs.

● Busch returned to the track in 15th place for the restart on lap 132. He reported a few laps later that the car was handling way too tight.

● As green-flag pit stops started taking place on lap 167, the No. 18 team elected to make their own stop for adjustments, four tires and fuel. Busch was in 15th place by the time stops cycled through. He was able to move up one position to 14th to finish Stage 2.

● It was another round of adjustments, four tires and fuel for the No. 18 Skittles Toyota during the break.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-367):

● Started eighth and finished seventh.

● Busch was all business to start Stage 3, quietly logging laps and making up ground to the frontrunners. He had climbed to fifth place during a round of green-flag pit stops before making his own stop on lap 258 for tires and fuel. He ran in 10th place once stops cycled through and once again starting making up track position.

● On lap 297 while running in fourth, Busch noted the car’s handling had improved.

● The Las Vegas native reported that the tires felt as though they had “worn to the chords” on lap 308. He brought the car to pit road two laps later for four tires and fuel. An accident in turn four forced the caution to be displayed. Because three cars had yet to make a stop, it resulted in the rest of the field being at least one lap down, including Busch.

● Because Busch had just stopped for fresh tires, he was in position to take the wave-around to get back on the lead lap and be in decent shape in regards to the amount of wear on his tires. The downside was that Busch had to start at the end of the longest line, behind lap-down cars, making it hard to advance on the frontrunners.

● Busch restarted the race in sixth place on lap 322.

● The team caught a lucky break with a caution on lap 328 for debris. This enabled the team to come to pit road for fresh tires and be back in the same vicinity as the leaders.

● When green-flag racing resumed, Busch quickly reported that the car was handling way too tight. Caution waved a few laps later on lap 343 with Busch in seventh place.

● As the laps wound down Busch reported again that the car’s handling remained on the tight side and that it just would not go. He was in seventh place and maintained the position to the checkered flag.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles 1998 Retro Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

“We just weren’t very good tonight. I don’t know why, but we just seem to struggle here. Our No. 18 Skittles Toyota team did a good job making adjustments on pit road tonight; we just were so tight at the beginning of a run. We’d get a little better as a run went, but it eventually shifted to the loose side. We’ll take seventh and move on.”

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.

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