Race Recap for the FireKeepers Casino 400
Date: June 10, 2019
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: 15th/5th (Running, completed 203 of 203 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (605 points, 9 behind leader)
Note:Race extended three laps past its scheduled 200-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kyle Busch started 15th, finished 14th.
● After a day’s delay due to rain, Busch took the green in 15th but fell back at the start of the race to 20th by lap two.
● The driver of the M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota dug in and worked his way back up to 18th by the competition yellow and up to 13th by lap 35.
● Busch radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he was a little too free into the corner and tight in traffic, then he settled into 14th for the end of the first stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Busch started 18th, finished sixth.
● The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team went to work on Busch’s No. 18 Toyota, making some significant changes under the caution following Stage 1. On lap 63 the team put on four tires while making a trackbar adjustment and pulling packer out of the right front. The significant work cost Busch some spots, and he started Stage 2 in 18th. However, he had worked his way up to 11th by lap 70 when the caution waved.
● Busch came back down pit road on lap 71 for fuel only and restarted 15th on lap 75.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion struggled with the handling of his M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota, but strategy helped Busch vault up to sixth by the end of the stage by virtue of his fuel-only stop on lap 71 while many others stayed out.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 121-203):
● Busch started 12th, finished fifth.
● Busch came down pit road after Stage 2 for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 12th for the third and final stage.
● Onthe restart, Busch lost help from behind, and a line of cars got around him, dropping him to 26th by lap 129.
● Stevens called Busch to pit road when the caution waved on lap 131 for tires and to pull packer from the right rear. Busch and Stevens tried to figure out why the handling was so far off, as they weren’t in a fuel window to make it to the end.
● The driver and his crew chief may have found something that worked on the lap-131 stop, as Busch was able to steadily move up the running order and enter the top-10 by lap 157.
● Busch kept advancing and was eighth by lap 165. He came to pit road for the final time on lap 176 for right-side tires and fuel. The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team performed a masterful stop, vaulting Busch up to fourth once the pit cycle completed.
● The Las Vegas native settled into fourth for the final laps of the race, but the caution waved with five laps to go, setting up a two-lap shootout to the finish. However, Busch was not able to make headway on the restart, coming home fifth after a day where they could have finished much worse.
● Busch brought home his ninth top-five finish of the season and his seventh at Michigan, including his third top-five finish in a row at the 2-mile oval.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We just did the best we could with what we had. Our M&M’s Hazelnut Spread Camry was not great, but we just kept working on it all day. We just kept falling back or doing rounds, doing air pressure, everything we could to get improving on it and make it better. I don’t think we ever really made it faster. It was still kind of slow at the end. We saw the 22 (Logano) just drive away from us on that restart there, but overall we came out way better than we should have.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota/Save Mart 350k on Sunday, June 23 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.