Race Recap for the First Data 500

Date:  Oct. 27, 2019
Event:  First Data 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format:  500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish:  13th/14th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing:  3rd (4,075 points, 17 ahead of the top-four cutoff)


Race Winner:  Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner:  Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):

● Kyle Busch started 13th and finished ninth, earning two bonus points.

● Qualifying 13th placed Busch on the inside for the start. He took advantage of that lane and was up to eighth place by lap four.

● During the next couple of laps Busch fell back a bit, reporting that the car didn’t have any turn and that the tight condition was of particular issue in the center of the turns.

● The first caution was displayed on lap 28 for debris. All teams made a trip to pit road. The No. 18 team changed four tires and added fuel. Busch lined up ninth for the restart on lap 34.

● The tight condition persisted through Stage 1. To compensate for the handling issue, Busch started trying different lines around the track. While the approach didn’t allow him to make any gains, it did keep him from losing track position.

● The M&M’S Halloween Toyota driver finished Stage 1 in ninth place.

● During the break following Stage 1, the team changed four tires, added fuel and made a chassis adjustment. Quick pit work placed the No. 18 car in seventh place to start Stage 2.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):

● Busch started seventh and finished seventh, earning four bonus points.

● The 2015 Cup Series champion was quiet through the early laps of Stage 2, logging laps in the ninth position.

● The second caution of the race was displayed on lap 177. Busch reported that the car’s handling wasn’t bad during that run but could still use a little help in the center of the turns.

● The team made a slight air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. Quick pit work allowed Busch to pick up four positions and line up fifth for the restart on lap 184.

● At lap 235 Busch reported that, while his car still lacked grip, the handling wasn’t bad.

● Caution was displayed again on lap 251 with Busch in fifth place. Most of the lead-lap cars made a trip to pit road for four tires and fuel. A couple of cars stayed out, and Busch lined up seventh for the restart.

● Busch was able to maintain the seventh position by the time Stage 2 concluded. 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261-500):

● Busch started sixth and finished 14th.

● Once again, Busch quietly went to work to start Stage 3. He logged laps and provided occasional updates on the handling of the M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry.

● As a long run unfolded, the No. 18’s handling seemed to improve. Busch took over fifth place on lap 300.

● The Las Vegas native was knocking on the door to take over fourth place on lap 345 when caution was displayed.

● The team made a slight air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel during the caution. Busch lined up fifth for the restart on lap 352.

● After losing a couple of positions during the restart, Busch made contact with driver Aric Almirola and spun into traffic on lap 361. Despite spinning in front of a number of cars, damage to the No. 18 was contained to the initial contact. Busch made a trip to pit road for the team to pull sheet metal and add four new tires, then lined up 14th for the restart on lap 372.

● Busch was running in 13th when caution came out on lap 376. He again made a trip to pit road for more repairs to the No. 18 Toyota. He was in 16th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 382.

● By lap 400 Busch was in 14th place. He picked up two more positions to run in 12th on lap 416 and was back in the top-10 with 65 laps to go.

● As the race wound down, the handling started going away on the No. 18 car. Busch continued to lose positions and was in 14th by the time the checkered flag waved.

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

“To say it was a disappointing day for our M&M’S Halloween Camry is an understatement. We just can’t get through these playoff races without an issue.”

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.