Race Recap for the Gander RV 400
Date: July 28, 2019
Event: Gander RV 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: 5th/9th (Running, completed 163 of 163 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd with 818 points, six behind first
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Kyle Busch started fifth and finished first, earning 10 bonus points and one playoff point.
● After battling with teammates Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones, Busch finally settled in at the third position by lap five. He patiently logged laps, reporting that the No. 18 Skittles Toyota handled well at the exit of turn three but was a bit loose at every other point on the track.
● As part of their prerace strategy, the team called Busch to pit road on lap 21 for a green-flag pit stop that included right-side tires and fuel. Busch returned to the track in 24th.
● During the next several laps Busch picked up positions on the track and was back in the top-10 by lap 33. He reported that the car was still a little too loose on lap 36, yet he was posting some of the fastest times on the track.
● Busch steadily picked up positions as more teams had to make stops for fuel and tires. That allowed Busch to take over the lead on lap 40, and he maintained the top spot to the end of Stage 1 for his eighth stage win of the season.
● Busch made a trip to pit road during the break for four tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Busch started 10th and finished 25th.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion lined up 10th to start Stage 2 and was quick on the restart, picking up five positions by the time the field came around to complete the first lap of the stage.
● Busch continued his move back to the front of the field, running fourth by lap 58 and second by lap 62. He spent the next 10 laps stalking race leader Kevin Harvick, eventually taking over the top spot on lap 72.
● A couple of laps after taking over the top spot, Busch noted that the balance on the Skittles Toyota was “really good.”
● Caution slowed the race on lap 83. The team elected to stay out and restarted the race in first place on lap 87.
● Light rain started falling over the track and forced NASCAR to slow the race with another caution on lap 91. The team elected to stay out again and was in the lead when green-flag racing resumed on lap 95.
● Unable to make it to the end of the stage on fuel, crew chief Adam Stevens called Busch to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 98. As Busch was making his way to pit road, caution was displayed for an accident. This resulted in the stage ending during the caution period. Busch was scored in 25th place.
● A number of teams had to make stops for tires and fuel, which placed Busch in 15th place to start the third and final stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 101-163):
● Buschstarted 15th and finished ninth, earning two bonus points.
● After a harried restart Busch settled in at the 15th position and set to work making his way back to the front of the field.
● He was in 10th place when caution was displayed for an incident on lap 113. The Skittles team elected to stay out during the break while the frontrunners made trips to pit road for service. This placed Busch in the lead for the restart on lap 117.
● Busch patiently paced the field, reporting on lap 126 that the loose-handling condition was persisting on the Skittles Toyota.
● The Las Vegas native made what the team hoped to be the last trip to pit road on lap 134 for right-side tries and fuel. Busch was scored in 26th place once he settled back into race pace on lap 136.
● Back-to-back cautions were displayed on laps 152 and 157 for separate incidents. Busch was in 16th place when the first of the two cautions was displayed and picked up five positions by the time the field lined up for the final restart on lap 161. He was able to pick up two more spots to finish the day in ninth place by the time the checkered flag waved.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“It just wasn’t our day today. We had a fast Skittles Toyota Camry but just kept getting knocked off our plan with cautions. It’s not the finish we wanted, but we’ll take it and head to Watkins Glen.”
● Busch led three times for a total of 56 laps.
● Busch won Stage 1 to score one playoff point.
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 4 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.