Race Recap for the Gander Outdoors 400
Date: July 29, 2018
Event: Gander Outdoors 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 28th/1st (Running, completed 164 of 164 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 891 points, 48 ahead of second
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Kyle Busch started 28th and finished fourth.
● Busch started deep in the field by virtue of not passing post-qualifying technical inspection on Saturday, along with 12 other teams.
● Busch’s M&M’S Caramel Camry didn’t stay back in the pack for long, as he worked his way up to 13th by lap seven and into the top-10 on lap 20.
● Busch pitted for the first time on lap 24, telling crew chief Adam Stevens that he needed to turn better with the left front.
● As the laps ran down in the first stage, Busch kept moving his way up in the field, running sixth by lap 45 and finishing the stage in the fourth spot.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Busch started 10th, finished 25th.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion restarted the second stage in 10th and quickly moved his way back up toward the front, finding himself in fifth by lap 67.
● On lap 74 Busch radioed to his team that he needed more front grip, but that the rear grip was much improved during the run.
● Looking at strategy to set them up to win the race, Stevens and the M&M’S Caramel team called Busch to pit road again with just three lap remaining in Stage 2. The stop dropped him in the running order to finish the stage but set him up to be right at the front of the field to start the third and final stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 101-160):
● Busch started second and finished first.
● The M&M’S Caramel driver started second in the final stage behind William Byron, who had pitted with 12 laps to go in the stage and restarted first.
● Busch fell to third off the restart initially behind Byron and JGR teammate Erik Jones. But two laps later he got back around Jones and set his sights on leader Byron.
● He took the lead from Byron on lap 112 and led all but one lap as he held the point from laps 112-121 and laps 123-164.
● Despite four cautions – and battling his JGR teammate Daniel Suarez on the final three restarts – Busch held on for the victory.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Were you worried about your teammate Daniel Suárez on those final restarts?
“I was – (Daniel) Suárez, I just can’t say enough about my teammate. What an awesome race. He was probably the third-best car – (Kevin) Harvick was the best car, and we were the second-best car, and then Suárez was the third-best car. He gave us a run for our money there on those last couple restarts. The last one I spun my tires a little too much, and he got a really good run. I think that gave (Erik) Jones an opportunity to make it three-wide down into one, and those guys got to racing and just kind of let me get away. Just can’t say enough about Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all my guys. This Caramel Toyota Camry was awesome and had a lot of speed, but we fought it all weekend. Glad to get here and glad to get another win for all the Rowdy Nation fans out there and everybody here at Pocono. We swept the weekend and taking home both eagle trophies this week. It was a great weekend to kick off our 18in18 promotion, so hope fans can use the hashtag 18in18 on social media to share they celebrate the M&M’S car winning.”
What does it mean to tie Tony Stewart with 49 career wins?
“That’s awesome. You keep reaching higher up the ladder and you keep reaching milestone drivers, and Tony Stewart is one of the all-time best and one of the drivers that I was a fan of as well growing up, so it’s awesome to be able to tie him. There are many more that we want to keep tying and getting higher than, but Tony’s a great friend, and it’s pretty cool to be able to get that. What’s crazy is how this year keeps going, you know – it’s like Harvick gets one, we get one, (Martin) Truex (Jr.) gets one, and we’re all back and forth. We answered the point here this weekend without having the fastest car, and that’s what matters.”
What has made you so strong at Pocono?
“I don’t know, certainly Adam Stevens and my guys are mightily incredible; we didn’t unload the best, I didn’t feel like. I felt like I had a feel here last year, and we were way off of that. We worked really hard on trying to get that back, and they did such a good job, just a phenomenal time here. And M&M’S Caramel – it’s pretty cool to win for them, being here and right up the road is where they’re all at in Hackettstown, so really thankful for that; and of course Toyota and Interstate Batteries, NOS Energy Drink – made by a winner for winners so that’s good for them. Of course Stanley – what about my teammate? Daniel Suárez running second, he gave me a heck of a run and ran me so clean, but he did a great job. I didn’t have a terrible restart on that last one but not a great one, and he was able to keep up with me down into turn one and raced down in there, and then I’m not sure what happened after that. I heard three-wide, but we got Stanley on our car and Stanley on their car, so cool for them to be up front. And Cessna, Rheem, DVX Eyewear, Black Clover and appreciate the fans and appreciate Rowdy Nation, and being able to win here again at Pocono means a lot.”
● Busch won the Gander Outdoors 400 to score his 49th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 483 races, his sixth of the season and his second at Pocono. His margin of victory over second-place Daniel Suarez was 1.788 seconds.
● Busch led twice for a race-high 52 laps.
● Busch tied three-time NASCAR Cup Champion Tony Stewart’s 49 wins and is tied for 13th on the all-time wins list.
● Busch now has 192 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (49), Xfinity (92) and Truck (51).
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 29 laps.
● Twenty-eight of the 40 drivers in the Gander Outdoors 400 finished on the lead lap.
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.