Race Recap for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Date: Feb. 25, 2018
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: 1st/7th (Running, completed 325 of 325 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (61 points, 28 out of first)

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford) 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):

● Started first, finished sixth.

● Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Almond Toyota Camry, made his 350th Cup start in a Camry from the pole position to start the 500-mile event.

● The SNICKERS Almond driver settled into the second spot on lap two and maintained that position until briefly earning the lead on lap 18. However, he was only able to hold it for two laps before dropping back to second.

● Busch made significant gains on the field with 30 laps remaining in the stage as he was running 1.5 seconds quicker than third place.

● Unfortunately, as the competition caution waved on lap 30, a connection to the trackbar mount was lost. But not wanting to lose track position so early in the event, the SNICKERS Almond team opted to wait and fix the connection in Stage 2.

● Following the competition caution, Busch reported a tight-handling condition.

● Busch led three times for four laps in Stage 1.

● The SNICKERS Almond driver ultimately finished the stage in the sixth spot.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):

● Started fifth, finished third.

 As green-flag stops cycled through, Busch briefly took the lead for four laps before crew chief Adam Stevens called the SNICKERS Almond driver to pit road on lap 131 for four fresh tires and fuel.

 Busch ran in the seventh spot after his green-flag stop and maintained his position for several laps before jumping to the fifth spot.

● The SNICKERS Almond driver diagnosed and fixed the connection issue for the trackbar mount under caution on lap 161.

● Busch raced into the third spot on the subsequent restart, and he finished the stage in the third position.

● Busch led once for a total of four laps in Stage 2.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 171-325):

● Started fifth, finished seventh.

● The SNICKERS Almond team serviced Busch’s Camry with four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to start the final stage.

 Busch advanced to third on the first restart of the stage.

● Busch took the lead for the fifth time of the day on lap 213 as green-flag stops started.

● Busch rejoined the field in the fifth spot after his green-flag stop on lap 215. He moved back into the third spot on lap 226 when the final two cars off sequence finally came to pit road.

● During the lap-297 caution period, Busch pulled too far forward in his pit stall and lost a spot on pit road. He restarted ninth, ultimately finishing the race in seventh.

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

“We were top five, top seven all day with our SNICKERS Almond Camry. It was pretty good day for us for the most part. I never had anything for the leaders at all. And then I got snookered on strategy there for three spots and got us back a bit further back. We just didn’t finish where we needed and we’ll take it and move on to Vegas next weekend.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday, March 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX.