Haas Automation/Monster Energy Driver Misses Championship Four
Date: Nov. 11, 2018
Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: ISM Raceway near Phoenix (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)
Start/Finish: 14th/32nd (Accident, completed 272 of 312 laps)
Point Standing: 6th with 2,318 points
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):
● Kurt Busch started 14th, finished fourth, earning seven bonus points.
● Busch said the car was a bit loose, but he was up to 10th by lap 30.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):
● Busch started second, finished 22nd.
● On lap 79, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel.
● Busch took the lead at lap 84 and held the top spot until he pitted under caution on lap 135 for four tires and fuel.
● The No. 41 Ford was issued a one-lap penalty for passing the pace car on pit road entrance. He restarted 27th, one lap down.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):
● Busch started 21st, one lap down, and finished 32nd.
● On lap 230, after a caution, Busch was the “lucky dog” and back on the lead lap in 12th.
● Busch pitted on lap 231 for four tires and fuel.
● After not pitting during a lap-263 caution, Busch restarted second.
● Unfortunately, as Busch entered turn two on the restart, the car of Denny Hamlin brushed up against the No. 41 Ford and drove both cars into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. Busch’s car then struck the car driven by Chase Elliott.
● The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion could not be repaired in the allotted five-minute window, and Busch’s day was done.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Erik Jones was on my inside when we restarted, and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip through the new one and two. If I could have been to somebody’s outside off two, then I thought we had a good shot of maintaining the lead, and I just got cleaned out. I flat out got cleaned out. I thought it was the right decision on staying out. I’m not going to look back on it. If the rule earlier in the race on the pit road of passing the pace car is black and white, I just need to get brushed up on my rulebook. I didn’t gain anything by doing what I did other than just digging from behind all day. It was a really good year for our Haas Automation Ford. Thanks to Monster Energy and everybody that put their talent into that 41 car. I just didn’t get the job done to get us to Homestead.”
You embraced Tony Stewart when you got out of the car. What did you say?
“He was just helping me out as a driver, owner. That’s what Tony Stewart does. He’s a good individual that knows how to pat somebody on the back and create clarity from the outside on what went on, because I only see what happens from the inside of the car.”
● Kurt Busch finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points.
● Kurt Busch led once for 52 laps to increase his laps-led total at Phoenix to 809.
● Kyle Busch won the Can-Am 500k to score his 51st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his eighth of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .501 of a second.
● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
● Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.
Playoff Standing (with one race to go before the Championship 4):
Championship 4 Drivers:
1. Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)
2. Joey Logano (5,000 points)
3. Kyle Busch (5,000 points)
4. Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)
● Harvick will compete in the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last five years. He won the championship in 2014.
Failed to Advance to Championship 4:
1. Kurt Busch
2. Aric Almirola
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Chase Elliott
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final race of the 10-race playoffs starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m.