Race Recap for the Overton's 400
Date: July 30, 2017
Event: Overton’s 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: 1st/1st (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)
Point Standing: 4th with 723 points, 100 out of first
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Kyle Busch started first and finished first.
● Busch won the pole earlier in the day, and the Las Vegas native used his track position to jump ahead of the field during Stage 1.
● Busch’s M&M’S Caramel Camry was strong, but he wanted crew chief Adam Stevens to get the car to turn better from the center and through the rest of each turn.
● Busch stayed out front and brought home the Stage 1 win, edging Toyota teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Busch started second, finished 20th.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion jumped back out into the lead when he overtook Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth with an impressive pass on the outside in turn three on lap 56.
● After pitting on lap 71 Busch restarted fourth, and it was the first time he did not have clean air. As a result, Busch got loose twice and dropped to as low as seventh during Stage 2.
● Stevens and the M&M’S Caramel team pitted with just three laps left in the Stage as they set up their strategy for the end of the 400-mile race.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 101-160):
● Busch started fourth, finished first.
● With most of the top finishers of Stage 2 pitting during the caution, Busch lined up in fourth to start the final stage.
● Busch was able to jump up one spot to third shortly after the lap-105 restart, settling in behind Truex and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin as the laps wound down.
● With the race going on a long green-flag run toward the finish, an interesting pit strategy was developed by Stevens.
● The leaders Hamlin and Truex pitted earlier than Busch on the last run, and Stevens kept Busch out until lap 135. With him pitting later, Busch was able to have fresher tires late in the race, and he quickly caught the leaders.
● Busch powered past Hamlin, then Truex and, finally, to the lead past Kevin Harvick on lap 144. From there, Busch cruised to his first win of the season.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Was the word ‘finally’ the overwhelming thought when you crossed the finish line?
“For today, that was the word. It’s been a frustrating year, and this certainly relieves a little bit of that – I wouldn’t say all of it. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and these guys did an awesome job today. I can’t say enough about this M&M’S Caramel Camry – Toyota, this is their 100th Monster Energy Cup Series win. I can’t say enough about all of our partners and everyone on this team. All these guys, the pit crew, they do a great job each and every week. We had to rely on them on that final stop so we didn’t lose too much time to those guys, because we had so much distance that we were letting them have it on us with those fresher tires that they had. It’s been a frustrating year but an awesome day today.”
Were you comfortable with Adam’s strategy for this race?
“I knew exactly what he was doing, we talked about that before. I was all on board with everything we had going on there. Our car was really fast on the long run with nobody in front of us – we were just flying there. When those guys were in front of us, we were running 53.30s or whatever, and then they dumped off and peeled off and we had clean air and we were running 52.50s – faster than they were on older tires. We were fine. You can’t get through traffic, and it’s kind of frustrating in that regard. This is also a meaningful win for me in another way, this is the first time I’ve been to victory lane in a points-paying race since my grandmother passed away. This one’s for her, and she’s smiling down on us here today, and I appreciate that.”
How were you able to catch the leaders in the closing laps with the strategy?
“I knew what Adam (Stevens) was doing and I knew what he was thinking, and I was all on board for that. When all those guys dumped off, they were all in traffic with one another and they were slowing each other down just with the aerodynamic deficit, so they were running 53.30s or whatever when I was with them, and then they pulled off to pit road and I could run 52.60s and 80s. So I was half-a-second faster and just being able to run those laps in clean air and kind of pick off a few seconds from what they were going to have when they cycled back to old tires again. Then that was kind of making up ground for us, and we had to go to the long, long end of that before we put our tires on to make our fresh tires and our mechanical grip make up for the deficit that we gave them with them having fresher tires before us. I knew what he was thinking, and that’s what it all came down to. We didn’t really outsmart anyone today, we just kind of played our race and our own strategy and thought about it a little differently than others, and it worked out for us.”
● Busch led five times for a total of 74 laps.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Sixteen of the 38 drivers in the Overton’s 400 finished on the lead lap.
● Busch won the Overton’s 400 to score his 39th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Pocono. The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR champion has now won at every current track on the schedule except Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was 6.178 seconds.
● Truex leads the championship standings with 823 points and holds an 85-point advantage over his nearest pursuer, Kyle Larson.
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the I Love New York 355k on Sunday, Aug. 6 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.