Race Recap for the FireKeepers Casino 400
Date: Aug. 8, 2020
Event: Firekeepers Casino 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Format: 156 laps, broken into three stages (40 laps/45 laps/71 laps)
Note: Race extended five laps past its scheduled 156-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish. Start/Finish: 7th /5th (Running, completed 161 of 161 laps)
Point Standing: 10th (602 points, 61 behind leader)
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 1-40):
● Kyle Busch started seventh and finished ninth, earning two bonus points.
● The M&M’S Fudge Brownie driver started seventh, and dropped to 14th before working his way back up into the top-10 by lap 23 and eighth by lap 26 and held his position within the top-10 at the end of Stage 1.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 41-85):
● Busch started 10th and finished sixth, earning five bonus points.
● Busch came to pit road for the first time on lap 43 to take on four tires, fuel and adjustments, as he told crew chief Adam Stevens that the balance was good overall.
● Busch restarted 10th, and again dropped a few spots before working his way back up through the field, as he found himself up to sixth by lap 67.
● The Las Vegas native told Stevens his car balance was pretty good, but that he was starting to get tight towards the end of the run. Stevens added that he felt the track getting tighter during the previous run.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 86-156):
● Busch started fifth and finished fifth.
● The M&M’S Fudge Brownie driver came to pit road on lap 88 for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, and restarted the final stage in fifth-place.
● The defending Cup Series champion moved up to fourth by lap 104 shortly before the caution waved on lap 106.
● Stevens called Busch to pit road on lap 107 for fuel only, as he restarted in the lead on lap 110.
● Busch held the lead for a lap before Kevin Harvick moved around him for the lead on lap 111, as the M&M’S Fudge Brownie driver settled into the runner-up spot for the next portion of the race.
● Several cautions slowed the pace of the race, as Busch settled into third when the caution waved with 14 laps to go.
● NASCAR introducted a new "Choose Rule" where drivers were given the option to choose which lane the restart for the first time in a points-paying race. Putting the new rule into action late in the race, Busch chose to restart the first car on the inside on the restart with nine laps to go.
● Busch took the lead on the restart, but as he exited turn four, Harvick slid up and took the air off his left rear, sending Busch up the track and losing precious positions and down to ninth when the caution waved again with seven laps to go.
● Busch restarted ninth with a two-lap shootout to the checkered flag but fought his way on the top side to move all the way up to fifth when the checkered flag flew.
● Busch’s fifth-place finish is his ninth top-five and 11th top-10 finish of the 2020 NASCAR season.
● This marks his eighth top-five and 13th top-10 in 30 career starts at Michigan.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Fudge Brownie Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What happened with Kevin Harvick on one of the final restarts?
“I don’t know. Definitely got loose. Don’t know whether it was contact or just air. Definitely got loose and had to chase it and catch it. Thankfully, kept it out of the fence. We were able to salvage a fifth. Felt like we had a good second-place car today. The M&M’s Fudge Brownie Toyota Camry was fast. Just nowhere near his (Kevin Harvick) level of fast. The 4 (Harvick) car was just driving away and I was running wide open and couldn’t even draft with him down the straightaways. We definitely didn’t have the speed we needed, but had a good balanced car, good driving car and hopefully we can work on it a little bit tonight and get it better for tomorrow. Just need to be better in traffic and be able to maneuver and be able to pass just a bit more.
How do you asses your race today?
"Proud of the M&M’s Fudge Brownie guys. They did a good job. We’ve been playing hard all year and this was certainly an improvement. We’ve been close for good finishes and we’ve been running well enough for good finishes, we just aren’t getting them. Today was another indication of that. We should have finished second I guess, maybe won. Top-five it is. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, Toyota Camry and Rowdy Energy, we’ll be back tomorrow.”
How eager are you to get back tomorrow knowing the car was good today?
“The car was pretty good right off the bat. There’s still some things we can tweak on, hopefully. I’m scared to mess with it to try to make it better. It was just really, really hard to deal with in traffic. Anytime there was anybody in front of me, I had to be away from them, whether lower or higher, but not follow. It would not track at all with the car in front of me. That’s kind of been our ‘MO’ actually. Overall, just work on that.”
The second event of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Michigan is the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday. The race starts at 4:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.