Race Recap for the Kobalt 400

Date: March 12, 2017
Event: Kobalt 400 (Round 3 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) 
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th/22nd (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 19th (50 points, 82 out of first)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Started 9th, finished 8th. 
●  Busch fought handling issues from the drop of the green flag, with his car initially loose on the first run and tight on the second run of the race. 
● Crew chief Adam Stevens ordered up a bevy of changes to the M&M’S Camry making the cars handling much more to Busch’s liking, especially on long runs.
● Busch found himself in fifth on the final restart of the stage, but an extremely tight-handling car caused him to lose spots during the final laps of Stage 1. 
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Started 12th, finished 17th.
● Busch started Stage 2 in 12th, but didn’t stay there long as he worked his way up to fifth by lap 123 with long run speed in the car.
● The Las Vegas native pitted on lap 126 from fifth place, but was penalized for being too fast on pit road and was forced to serve a drive through penalty under green flag conditions. Once he served his penalty, Busch found himself in 24th - one lap down to the leaders.
● Busch fought hard once he served his penalty and moved up to the lucky dog spot. After a caution for a spin by Derrike Cope, Busch was awarded the lucky dog as the first car one lap down and was able to get his lap back on lap 151.
 ● The M&M’S driver started at the tail end of the lead lap in 17th at the end of Stage 2.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Started 9th, finished 22nd.
● Stevens elected to stay out during the break following the end of Stage 2, and restarted ninth in the final stage.
● Busch had one of his trademark restarts on lap 167, vaulting him to fifth in just one lap.
● Over the course of the final 100 laps, Busch’s handling kept improving as he found himself in fifth with 20 laps to go.
● With just 15 laps to go, the caution waved for Danica Patrick’s blown engine and set the stage for a final restart.
● Busch restarted fourth with nine laps to go and looked as if he was going to bring home a top-five finish.
● But on the last corner of the last lap, Joey Logano made contact with Busch coming off turn 4 heading for the checkered flag. The contact sent Busch spinning down pit road and relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Camping World 500k on Sunday, March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX.