Race Recap for the Food City 500
Date: April 24, 2017
Event: Food City 500 (Round 8 of 36)
Series: Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th/35th (Accident, completed 383 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (214 points, 146 out of first)
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):
● Started seventh, finished 10th.
● Busch was shuffled back a handful of positions at the start of the Food City 500 but easily picked his way up through the running order, reaching fifth place by lap 42.
● During the first stage Busch reported that aside from a lack of grip in turn two, the M&M’S Toyota was “pretty good.”
● The team changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure adjustment during the first caution period on lap 54.
● Busch made slight contact with driver Jamie McMurray during the restart on lap 71 when McMurray’s No. 1 car got loose and he had to get out of the gas. Busch, with nowhere to go, made the slightest of contact but was able to continue without issues. The M&M’S Toyota continued to handle on the tight side as the stage continued, however, resulting in Busch dropping back to 10th place, the position in which he was scored at the conclusion of the first stage.
● In an effort to counter the tight-handling condition, crew chief Adam Stevens called for four tires and fuel in addition to wedge and air pressure adjustments during the break. Quick pit work by the No. 18 team placed Busch in ninth place for the start of the second stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):
● Started ninth, finished 19th.
● The tight condition that developed during the first stage persisted in the second, and Busch slipped a bit in the running order.
● Busch was racing just outside the top-10 when a problem with the right-front tire developed on lap 210, resulting in significant contact with the outside retaining wall. The situation forced NASCAR to display the caution, which gave the M&M’S team time to make repairs without losing a lap to the race leaders.
● Despite the damage to the No. 18 car, Busch was able to post lap times consistent with the leaders and finish the second stage in 19th place.
● The team made another round of adjustments during the break to help alleviate the tight-handling issue that persisted.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251-500):
● Started 21st, finished 35th.
● While Busch continued to deal with a tight-handling issue on the M&M’S car, he managed to post lap times on par with the leaders, racing from 21st place at the start of the final segment to 11th by lap 320.
● The team took time during a caution period on lap 323 to make a significant chassis change, removing some packer from the shock department. It was a similar adjustment the team made during the break between the second and third segments and seemed to help with the handling.
● Busch was in 15th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 328, and he continued his charge to the front, breaking back into the top-10 on lap 345 and running lap times as fast as, and at times faster than, the race leader.
● The M&M’S Toyota was in eighth place when another issue with the right-front tire developed. This time, Busch made hard contact with the retaining wall in turn four. The damage was significant, and the team was unable to continue in the race. Busch finished the event in 35th place.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Our M&M’S Toyota Camry was the fastest one out there those last two runs – picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time. We had our issues and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front. We thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our JGR cars were fine.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, April 30 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.