Race Recap for the FireKeepers Casino 400
Date: June 10, 2018
Event: FireKeepers Casino 400 (Round 15 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish: 3rd/4th (Running, completed 133 of 133 laps in a rain-shortened race)
Point Standing: 1st (664 points, 75 ahead of second)
Race Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kyle Busch started third, finished 12th.
● While Busch qualified third on Friday, he was forced to drop to the back of the field right before the start for a penalty in prerace technical inspection, so he was 39th when the green flag waved after a more than 2½-hour rain delay.
● The driver of the M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota didn’t stay back there long, as he moved up to 24th by lap five and into the top-20 by lap 15.
● Busch worked his way up to 17th when the caution competition waved on lap 25, pitted on lap 27 and restarted 14th on lap 28.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Busch started 14th, finished fourth.
● The M&M’S Red, White and Blue driver jumped from 14th to inside the top-10 early in Stage 2, and he found himself seventh by lap 86. Busch finally ran inside the top-five after a pit stop on lap 87.
● During the next 30-lap run, Busch was able to get by Paul Menard to finish Stage 2 in fourth place.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 121-133):
● Busch started fifth, finished fourth.
● Busch pitted for four tires and an air pressure adjustment following Stage 2, and restarted fifth on lap 122.
● Rain, which had already delayed the race, was on the horizon as the race passed the halfway point, and Busch and his fellow competitors knew they were racing for the win. Busch was able to move up one spot to fourth by the time the rain came on lap 131.
● With the rain falling on the 2-mile oval and darkness coming quickly, the race was called 67 laps short of the scheduled distance with Busch bringing home a hard-earned top-five finish.
● This is Busch’s fifth top-five and ninth top-10 finish in 27 career Cup Series starts at the 2-mile oval.
● Busch’s finish is his 10th top-five in 15 races thus far this season.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“The blue ovals were just tough today – it wasn’t anything about SHR (Stewart Haas Racing). They go down the straightaway really, really fast. We have a hard time keeping up with them there, but our car through the corner was really awesome. The M&M’s Red, White and Blue Camry was really good there after yesterday’s practice. I thought we had something for them, and if it was going to be a little bit hotter and sunnier today, I felt like we were going to be really good. That just wasn’t the conditions for today, so chilly and cool and lots of grip, and that was better for all those guys, but we gave it a hard-fought fight and came home with what we could there – a fourth. Not too shabby. I thought we had third, and then Kurt (Busch) blew my doors off on the straightaway. We’ve just got to get better there and try to make it up and be able to put on a fight here later on this year.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota/Save Mart 350k on Sunday, June 24 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.