Rowdy Wins From the Pole At Loudon
Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Overton’s 200
TRACK: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon
START: 1st, POLE earned at 129.353 mph
FINISH: 1st, Led five times for 77 laps
LAPS: Completed 200 laps, 211.6 miles
RACE Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing
- NASCAR’s XFINITY Series entered week seventeen of the 2017 season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at Loudon on Saturday afternoon for the Overton's 200 race event. Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) veteran Kyle Busch and the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota team started from row one, a pole-qualifying run at 129.353 mph. The JGR entry was strong early, only dropping to third place initially with a loose-handling race car. With good pit stop strategy and a race momentum swing late in the race, the victory from the pole came one week after Busch scored the same accomplishment last race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The win was Busch’s 89th series win in 334 NASCAR XFINITY starts and third win of 2017. It was pole win number five and race win number three for team members of the No. 18 Camry with Joe Gibbs Racing this season.
- Busch and team entered the race weekend with two practice sessions on Friday afternoon and the team ran fastest among competitors before rain shortened teams’ practice efforts in final minutes. Busch posted the fastest time in practice battling the bumpy and flat 1.058-mile race track, then backed up that preparation when the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team earned a first place, row-one starting spot at 129.353 mph with a 29.445 second lap. It was Busch’s 62nd pole in 334 career series starts, his fifth first-place qualifying effort of 2017 and fourth in 12 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the XFINITY Series.
- From the pole starting spot Busch took the green flag and soon slipped to the third-place position with feedback about the car’s initial handling, “I’m sideways loose,” Busch describes as he slapped the wall. But by lap eight the No. 18 Toyota was back into the lead position. The NOS Energy Drink team was still leading the field when a weather delay occurred that stalled competition for 45 minutes. When NASCAR called drivers back to their vehicles, Busch and team took advantage of a quick yellow-flag and visited pit road to make chassis adjustments and take on new tires. After the race resumed and at the end of stage one, Busch was scored in third place. “I’m just sliding the ‘rear’ all the way though,” the veteran driver explained to his team.
- Stage 2 restarted on lap 51 and the NOS Energy Drink team drove from third place to second place, then back into the race lead on lap 54. Still fighting an ill-handling car, Busch lost the lead to competitor Brad Keselowski at lap 70. The stage two completion saw Busch in second place. “I need more right rear lateral, all the way through the corner, it’s got to turn better,” Busch prepared his team for making a full pit stop at lap 93. The NOS Energy team resumed the lead after that pit-road visit and the green flag waved in stage three at lap 96. By lap 102, however, the NOS Energy Drink Camry was fighting a loose-handling condition once more and their steady driver dropped to second place again behind Keselowski.
- While Busch ran faster lap times than the leader, the positions were too spaced out for the Joe Gibbs Racing team to gain an advantage. Then around lap 170 when teams came to pit road, under the green flag, the race story changed. Competitor Keselowski’s pit crew made an error and carried a fuel can outside the pit box upon exiting their stop. The penalty dropped the No. 22 Ford machine back into the field, which opened up the path for Busch to once again control the race lead. No further race cautions would appear and the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Camry would claim victory, the team’s third first-place result of the 2017 season.
- The Saturday result earned Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing a few NASCAR awards including the Coors Light Pole Award, Mahle Levite Engine Builder of the Race Award and the Mobil 1 Driver of the Race Award.
- Saturday’s XFINITY Series event recorded an average speed of 109.276 mph and saw 13 lead changes across seven drivers. Busch led the field five times for 77 laps. There were three caution periods over 15 laps of the 211.6-mile event.
- With Saturday’s victory, the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink team moves to sixth place in NASCAR’s Owner Championship Points Standings, now 181 markers from the front of the field.
- The NASCAR XFINITY Series competes again Saturday, July 22 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway and will be broadcast on NBCSN at 3:30pm EST.
Kyle’s Post-Race Thoughts:
What does it mean to you to get to celebrate with this team?
“Yeah, it’s awesome because, you know, they deserve it and so does every team out here, but my team I want to say they work the best, they work the hardest and they made this NOS Energy Drink Camry really, really good. The 22 (Brad Keselowski) was really good and I felt like we were okay on the long runs, but once they got track position it was hard to pass them. Can’t say enough about this Toyota Camry, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) engines – hey buddy, high five, yeah – and everybody that showed up here. We put on a really good show here for the fans and the Speedway does too with all the racing that they have here, so if you don’t come out to New Hampshire you’re missing out. But want to thank DVX sunglasses and Cessna, XFINITY and the XFINITY streaming app – we appreciate what they do for our series too.”
Did the VHT go away during the XFINITY race?
“It definitely did go away, you know, and I think the modifieds actually took most of it away today, so those cars’ tires are just so wide and they’re biased. I think they’re just extra sticky, so they pulled it up off the race track before we really had a chance to see what it would do with these radial tires from Goodyear, but we’ll see what happens. I’m sure they’ll re-apply and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s going to change. It’s going to be ever changing and I think that’s just the theme of it that you can never know what to expect and you’ve always got to be ready for anything.”
How much did you learn for tomorrow?
“I learned that stuff is sticky for a little while and then it kind of wears off, but I’m sure they will re-apply tonight and it’ll be ever changing. I think that’s just the theme of it is that you’ve just got to be mindful of what it’s doing and where it’s going and how it’s changing and all those things, so, you know, it’s just fun to come out here and anticipate some of that stuff for tomorrow, but it’s fun too to have the fans come out and stick around and hopefully we put on a good show for them today that they were having fun with and they’ll still have one more race coming up.”
What did you think when Brad Keselowski got his penalty?
“It was a huge difference. That was a game changer, you know? A day changer for us, for them and for everybody, so, you know, but I want to give thanks to my guys and everyone on this NOS Energy Drink team, everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, Eric Phillips (crew chief), my guys – they work real hard and they do a great job and we were right there. We were close, but we were a second-place car today and yet it all takes teamwork and my guys they came together on pit road when it mattered most right there at the end and gave me a fast pit stop. We got out front. I think we kind of coaxed those guys into having to rush themselves and hurry a little bit and maybe we put the pressure and that was the difference was today, so great day for us and excited to have the opportunity to be in victory lane again here in New Hampshire.”
Is it a big deal to have 175 NASCAR national series wins?
“It is and I know a lot of those are the minors, so I’ll take them where I can get ‘em as of right now, but certainly there’s going to be a lot more wins to be had on Sundays as well too. I’ve got a long road ahead of me probably and, you know, it just seems like we’ve had a lot of bad luck on that side of this year and I don’t know – maybe it’s turning around somewhat, but we saw that today we had luck on our side, so thank the racing Gods for that one and allowing us to be here.”
Can you recall a race where you had to deal with more variables than today?
“No, probably not now that you mention it and go through all those different ones. It certainly seems like an awful lot and it was, but I think tomorrow we’re going to see a lot of that as well too, you know? I’m sure they’ll be putting some more VHT down tonight and they’ll be respraying the race track and getting it prepped for tomorrow and the modifieds took a lot of it off today and I think it’s just because their tires are so wide and so sticky as well already that our radials take to it differently than their Hoosiers do, so, you know, we’ll see how all that goes tomorrow. I just think the key word to everything is just ever changing, That’s what happens here at New Hampshire. I think that the race track has been ever changing and the weather conditions were today and the weekend has been so far with it being overcast and cloudy yesterday while we practicing and then misting and then hot and sunny today, so it’s all over the place, but those that adapt well tend to run well and then finish well.”