Race Recap for the South Point 400

Date: Sept. 15, 2019
Event: South Point 400 (Round 27 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: 20th /19th (Running, completed 266 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (2,063 points, 19 out of first – IN THE PLAYOFFS)

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Kyle Busch started 20th, finished 29th.

● Busch started in 20th, and the first few laps of the race he was in the middle of a huge pack of cars that ran three- and four-wide as the field sorted out the running positions.

● On lap four, Busch was put in a three-wide situation and hit the outside wall exiting turn two, causing some damage to his M&M’S Hazelnut Toyota. He continued to try and hold onto the car until a caution to be able to make repairs.

● On lap 11, the 2015 Cup Series champion radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens and the team that he had a tire coming apart and needed to pit. Busch came to pit road for right-side tires and to fix damage on the same side. He returned to the track one lap down in 37th place.

● Busch pitted again with the leader under green-flag conditions on lap 41, taking four tires and fuel but falling to two laps down. He ended a caution-free first stage in the 29th position.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Busch started 33rd, finished 26th.

● Busch pitted early for the M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team to make extensive repairs to the right-side damage and to change tires.

● The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread driver came in another time to change left-side tires and for more repairs. He was forced to start Stage 2 at the tail end of the longest line in the 33rd position.

● When the green flag waved for Stage 2, Busch dug in deep, working his way up to 30th by lap 120 but still needing a caution to get back at least one of his laps.

● Stevens called for Busch to stay out as long as possible in hopes of catching a caution. The caution never came, so he called for Busch to pit for four tires on lap 154, hoping to stay two laps down and take the wave-around when the leaders pitted at the end of the stage.

● Busch was able to keep stage winner and JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. behind him and finished 28th in Stage 2, still two laps down. 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Busch started 26th, finished 19th.

● Busch started the stage by taking the wave-around after the leaders pitted during the stage break. He restarted in 26th, one lap down.

● With a caution coming out for a spin by William Byron, Busch again took the opportunity to take the wave-around when the leaders pitted. He restarted 22nd on lap 185, back on the lead lap, albeit on worn-out tires.

● Hoping for a caution so he could pit for fresh tires, good fortune came quickly when several leaders bounced off of each other. Among them was Kyle’s brother, Kurt Busch, who made contact with the outside SAFER Barrier in the middle of turn three.

● Kyle Busch brought the No. 18 to pit road for fresh tires on lap 192, and he restarted in 17th on lap 194.

● From there, Busch started his march to the front of the field, cruising into the top-10 by lap 206 and into the top-five by lap 215.

● Busch pitted for the final time on lap 230, taking four tires and fuel and heading to the last 37 laps aiming for a top-five finish.

● The Las Vegas native battled with Alex Bowman and William Byron for sixth, but as he was trying to navigate a lapped car, the car washed down in front of him and Busch ran into the back of the slower car, causing significant damage to the No. 18.

● For the final 16 laps all Busch could do was hold on, as he dropped from seventh all the way down to 19th by the time the checkered flag flew.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

 “It was just a long night for us. Battled back to get back on the lead lap, probably was going to be able to finish in the top-five, and we ran into a lapped car and ruined our night. Once we got our damage fixed our M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry was fast, but we didn’t have anything to show for it at the end.”

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday night, Sept. 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.