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Race Recap: Zippo 200

Box Score Info:

RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Zippo 200
TRACK: Watkins Glen International
CAR: No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry
START: 2nd
LAPS: Completed 82 laps; Busch led three times for a race-high 43 laps
RACE WINNER: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing

Post-Race Highlights

  • NASCAR’s XFINITY Series entered week 20 of the 2017 season at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for an overcast Saturday afternoon race event. Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) veteran Kyle Busch and the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota team started from row one, a 2nd-place qualifying lap at 124.019 mph captured in 71.118 seconds. During the race Busch led the field three times over 82 event circuits and was uncontested in the final race laps, earning the veteran series driver his third win in five series races this year. The accomplishment was Busch’s 90th win overall in 336 career XFINITY series events. 
  • The victory was Busch’s fourth victory and seventh top-10 result of  2017 and his first career victory as a driver and also for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen International. The former XFINITY Series champion earned Joe Gibbs Racing the Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” and Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race and Mobile 1 Driver of the Race Awards. Busch achieved the No. 01 Driver Rating for the race with Fastest Laps Run, Laps Led and Green Flag Speed recorded. 
  • Busch and team unloaded a fast road-course Toyota Camry on Friday and proceeded to post competitive speeds near the top of the practice board, second only to the Penske cars. That theme continued through the qualifying effort Saturday morning as Busch recorded a second-place front-row start, behind Penske driver Joey Logano, earned at over 124.00 mph, his sixth top-10 start at Watkins Glen in the XFINITY Series. Upon taking the green flag Busch immediately took the lead  position from competitor Logano and kept the lead through initial race caution periods. Momentum was good for a stage one win, when the No. 18 was seen running off the race track. Over the radio, Busch explained, “I lacked rear lateral in the rear, but as the tires got hot and pressures are in, was better, then I just wheel hopped.” The NOS Energy Drink Camry was in third place at lap 20 for stage end. 
  • Under caution before stage two could get underway with a green flag, the No. 18 visited pit road, and while the stop was fast, Busch was recorded with a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes upon entry. The rule states a driver cannot “slide" through more than three pit boxes before his own, and Busch was seen to have slightly caught a fourth pit box. The penalty would put the NOS Energy Drink Camry to the rear of the field, therefore crew chief Eric Phillips called his driver back into the pit box, for a top-off of Sunoco Racing fuel. Stage two restart under green saw Busch in the 23rd position but with an immediate on-track accident, and a few cars pushed off track, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was able to jump into the 22nd position. 
  • Stage two showcased Busch’s ability as he quickly started gaining positions back, lap by lap, creeping into the top-20, the top-15 and then in the ninth position by lap 33. An event caution at lap 34 and the No. 18 team elected not to visit pit road. Upon restart, and with four laps remaining in stage two, the NOS Energy Drink Camry would advance to fourth place by stage end at lap 40. Stage three would restart under green flag at lap 43 and Busch would comment to his team, “There’s no right-in lateral, especially taking off on restarts here,” similar feedback to earlier in the race. At this point in the race the team was able to capitalize on changes in strategy from other competitors. The No. 02 race leader faded to fourth position and two Penske cars, in second and third place, hit pit road for an early strategy. When those changes cycled through the No. 18 was scored in second place, until the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan also needed to visit pit road for fuel. At that point Busch took the race lead. Despite one more strategic pit-road visit, a late race caution and subsequent restart, the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Camry prevailed, bringing home the team’s fourth win of the season. 
  • Saturday’s XFINITY Series event recorded an average speed of 92.569 mph and saw eight lead changes across five drivers. Busch led the field three times across 43 laps. There were five caution periods for 15 laps of the 200.9-mile event.  
  • With Saturday’s first-place finish the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink team moved to fourth place in the series Owner’s Championship competition, now 150 markers behind the No. 22 of Penske Racing. The NASCAR XFINITY Series competes again Saturday, August 12 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN at 3:30pm ET.    

Driver KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing:

How do you feel about earning the win and the 139th series wins for Joe Gibbs Racing, which sets a NASCAR XFINITY Series record?

“That’s pretty awesome. Just congratulations to this group of guys and everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. It’s awesome to drive fast Toyota Camrys like we’ve been bringing to the race track so hats off to those guys for doing that. This NOS Energy Drink Camry was just that, we were pretty good all day yesterday in practice, all day in the race. I tried to throw it away and screw it up early on by spinning, but man I was just trying to conserve and save and I thought I almost missed the corner so I gave it a little bit more brake and then it just wheel-hopped on me. That’s just how close to on edge we are here and I spun around and got back going and only lost a couple spots, but that couple of spots was pretty important for the rest of the day.”

How was your race today? 

This NOS Energy Drink Rowdy flavor Camry was awesome today. This Toyota Camry drove really good. The guys had awesome brakes on the car. The tires were pretty good too. I thought I flat spotted them a couple of times, but they held throughout the run so that was cool. And, then we just want to thank the fans. Of course they’re great and they support the racing up here. Fans on TV, thanks for watching of course. DVX Sunglasses, Cessna, XFINITY, we appreciate them and giving us the stream app. It’s a lot of fun to watch these races from too when you’re out and about.” 

Do you feel like it’s a possibility to sweep the weekend with a win in the Cup Series tomorrow?

“It certainly is. Our cars have been really fast this weekend. I don’t know if I’m just in the groove or what, but it feels pretty good. The cars have really been working for me here and it just feels so good to finally win an XFINITY race here. We’ve been so close so many times. One of my favorite runs here was in a Zippo car and being it the Zippo race today that’s kind of ironic – I guess they sponsor it every year -- but being with Eddie D’Hondt and the Zippo car I remember we were really, really fast and wish we would’ve got that one. We got it done here today. This group of guys is awesome and they did everything there for me today. Pit road was pretty good for us. We stayed out long on that one run and we were able to cycle back up to the lead. It worked two weeks in a row that way, I don’t know how much longer we can do that before they figure it out but it’s been working for us so we’ll take it.”  

Can you take us through working your way back up through the field and the penalty on pit road?

“You’re always worried about those situations because I don’t know if it was last year or the year before here where I got in the back and there was a wreck through the esses there and I couldn’t get through and I couldn’t get through and I got clipped and I got crashed. Anything can happen in those situations. But, we had to go to the back and put on a show for all of the fans here today and slicing our way through traffic. There were a couple of moments there that I wasn’t sure that we were going to make it through but everybody did a great job racing me hard, racing me clean and had some fun times.”