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Kyle Busch Adds Charlotte Win To Resume

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 21 2017

Kyle Busch collected a checkered flag courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

RacinToday.com

Kyle Busch is no longer winless in a NASCAR Cup car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the sport’s national capital.

Busch has won a Cup championship, 38 series races and well over 300 races across NASCAR’s three major platforms. Now he has his Charlotte win. It is an exhibition race victory as it came in Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race, but it’s a Cup win at Charlotte none the less.

“We’ve never won at Charlotte in a Cup car and we finally achieved that goal tonight,” an elated Busch said in Victory Lane. “I won the All-Star Race. I won a million bucks. There’s reason to celebrate and reason to celebrate big.

“I can’t say enough about this team. I can’t say enough about (crew chief) Adam Stevens and these guys on the pit box. You can rely on them all day long. I had to do that tonight. We weren’t quite the fastest car, but we made the right changes when it mattered most. We made the right moves when it mattered most. We got the most out of our night tonight and got here to Victory Lane. Just so relieved, elated, proud and excited—all at the same time.”

Busch earned the victory by doing what he does as well as any driver in the sport – execute a great restart. This particular one came on the final restart with 10 laps left.

Once out front, he drove away to a 1.274-second victory.

Busch powered his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the inside of Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford—the race leader on old tires—as the field roared toward Turn 1 on the final restart. Through the first two corners he cleared both Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, who had restarted second on the outside to gain the race lead in clean air.

Though Johnson pursued with an intensity befitting the $1 million first prize, he was unable to catch Busch. Kyle Larson, winner of the first two 20-lap stages of the 70-lap non-points event, passed Johnson for second-place on the final lap.

“I saw an interview (sprint car superstar) Donny Schatz did last night,” Larson said. “They said, ‘Oh, second is good’.  But, no, he said, ‘second sucks ass’.  Today it sucks ass. Yeah, that sucks.  But we had a dominant car all race.  I thought initially our pit crew struggled that last stop.  Our jack post on the right side broke off at some point throughout the race.  So the jackman had to make a couple more pumps to get the car up.  It slowed the stop down enough that we got beat off pit road by three cars.  That was kind of the difference in the race for us.

“Had a lot of speed.  Restarted fifth.  Was able to get by Jimmie there that last lap, get to second.  I thought that we had a great shot at winning the All‑Star Race, but didn’t work out that way.”

In the first NASCAR race contested with both prime and faster short-run option tires, Johnson’s best hope on the final restart was that Keselowski would impede the progress of the inside lane, but Busch made sure that didn’t happen.

“I was really hopeful of old tires and being on the bottom,” Johnson said. “They’d be able to hold that lane back, especially Kyle (Busch) and how good he is on restarts. And it just didn’t happen. He got in there. I had a decent start. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) spun his tires behind me, and he wasn’t able to push me and get me going.

“I had a couple of shots at him (Busch). He wasn’t handling too well at the start of the run, but I just drove too hard. I could see a million dollars out the windshield, and I just drove this Lowe’s Chevy way too hard in the corner a couple of times and gave up some ground. We learned a little bit tonight and we’ll come back next week (for the Coca-Cola 600) and have some more fun.”

With the highest average finish in the first three 20-lap stages, Larson was first onto pit road during the final break. But a small glitch during the stop cost him three positions in the pits, and with Keselowski staying out because he had no fresh tires available, Larson restarted fifth with little chance to get to the front in the final 10-lap stage.

“My pit crew has been awesome all year, and I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Larson said. “We came down pit road the leader, and three people passed us. That was pretty much the difference there. But in 10 laps… track position is huge.

“We just didn’t have it there at the end. We had the best car out there, for sure. In traffic I thought it was really good. I thought we had it most of the race, but that’s how racing goes. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But I think we had a really fast car today. We’ll go onto the 600—that’s a long race—and try it again.”

Some of the most dramatic racing of the evening took place in the Monster Open, the 50-lap, three-stage qualifying race that preceded the main event. Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney won the first two stages and advanced to the All-Star Race.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Monster Energy All-Star Race

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Saturday, May 20, 2017

  1. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 70.
  2. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 70.
  3. (4) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 70.
  4. (5) Kurt Busch, Ford, 70.
  5. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 70.
  6. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 70.
  7. (20) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 70.
  8. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 70.
  9. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 70.
  10. (9) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 66.
  11. (18) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Eliminated, 60.
  12. (14) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Eliminated, 60.
  13. (17) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Eliminated, 60.
  14. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Eliminated, 60.
  15. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Eliminated, 60.
  16. (13) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Eliminated, 60.
  17. (11) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Eliminated, 60.
  18. (6) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Eliminated, 60.
  19. (15) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 57.
  20. (8) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, Oil Cooler, 20.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  86.558 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 12 Mins, 47 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.274 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  3 for 3 laps.

Lead Changes:  3 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 1-40; R. Blaney 41; J. Johnson 42-60; Kyle Busch 61-70.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Larson 1 time for 40 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 19 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 10 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Winner: #42 Kyle Larson

Stage #2 Winner: #42 Kyle Larson

Stage #3 Winner: #48 Jimmie Johnson

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 21 2017
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