Race Recap for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Date: March 5, 2017
Event: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (Round 2 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) 
Format: 325 laps, broken into three stages (85 laps/85 laps/155 laps)
Start/Finish: 3rd/16th (Running, completed 325 of 325 laps)
Point Standing: 25th (32 points, 58 out of first)
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):
● Started 3rd, finished 20th, one lap down.
● Fighting handling issues from the drop of the green flag, Busch dropped outside the top-10 on lap 41.
● Busch pitted on lap 32 during the stage; the SNICKERS Crisper Camry was loose on the left rear.
● Busch went a lap down to Stage 1 winner Kevin Harvick on lap 69, as the No. 18’s handling issues were causing the rear tires to wear more than those of some of the other competitors.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):
● Started 20th, finished 20th.
● During a pit stop on lap 90 following Stage 1, crew chief Adam Stevens made air pressure and spring rubber adjustments in hopes of getting the handling more to Busch’s liking.
● Stevens’ changes improved the handling of the SNICKERS Crisper Camry, but without a caution Busch was still stuck a lap down for the entirety of Stage 2.
● Busch pitted on lap 128 for tires and more air pressure adjustments, as his car was better but still tight in the middle of turn three.
● On lap 161, leader Harvick lapped Busch again, putting him two laps down in 20th, where he remained until the end of the stage.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 171-325):
● Started 20th, finished 16th.
● Busch picked up one spot to 19th at the start of Stage 3 and remained the first car two laps down.
● On lap 261, Busch found himself in 17th two laps down. But when the caution waved on lap 265, Busch stayed out and took the wave-around to get one of his laps back, putting him just one lap down.
● Busch got the caution he needed on lap 278 for an accident involving Clint Bowyer, and he pitted for fresh tires on lap 280.
● Busch restarted 17th on lap 282 and held his position until the caution waved for the final time on lap 311.
● Crew chief Stevens elected to have Busch stay out and again take the wave-around, putting him back on the lead lap.
● Running on old tires kept Busch at the tail end of the lead lap. He was running as high as 15th after the final restart and ended up 16th when the checkered waved.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Crisper Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

“We were just off today with our SNICKERS Crisper Camry. The first couple of runs, our rear tires would just fall off faster than a lot of other guys’ were. We used up the rear tires 12 laps into the run, and others were able to go 10 laps or more before their tires went away. Adam and the guys worked hard to keep adjusting the car the best they could, but our handling issues weren’t anything we were going to be able to fix during the race. We’ll just try to put this one behind us and get ready to have a much better next week in Vegas.”
Next Up: 
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Kobalt 400 on Sunday, March 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.