|Haas Automation/Monster Energy Driver Leads Twice for 19 Laps in Brickyard 400|
|Date: Sept. 10, 2018
Event: Brickyard 400 (Round 26 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th / 6th (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)
Point Standing: 6th with 2,014 points, 36 out of first – IN THE PLAYOFFS
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Matt Kenseth of Roush-Fenway Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Kurt Busch started fourth, finished second and collected nine bonus points.
● Grabbed third place right at the start and held the position until the first competition caution on lap 12.
● “Little loose in, tight off,” Busch said on lap seven around the 2.5-mile oval.
● Busch took advantage of this caution and brought his Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford to the pits for four tires, fuel and a left-rear wedge adjustment.
● Restarted in seventh place on lap 15 and climbed to fourth before pitting prior to second competition caution on lap 30.
● Busch pitted for four tires, but no fuel, on lap 30. He leapfrogged all those who were waiting until the caution came out to pit and took the lead.
● Busch led laps 33-44 and opened up a 1.5-second lead on his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Clint Bowyer before caution came out for an incident in turn one.
● Bowyer made his way past Busch on the lap-46 restart, but Busch held steady in second through the end of the stage.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage, but it was a slow stop, and Busch left pit road in 25th.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Started 25th, finished fifth and collected six bonus points.
● Had driven to 21st before a caution came out on lap 59 for an accident in turn three.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel on lap 60 and came off pit road in 27th for the lap-66 restart.
● Caution came out for an accident off turn two on lap 67, and Busch had to take evasive action to miss the wreck. This brought him up to 17th.
● As others pitted Busch gained even more spots, climbing to 12th for the lap-71 restart.
● Mired in traffic, Busch could make little headway, but he rose to fifth by the end of the stage as others ahead of him pitted.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel with a left-rear wedge adjustment at the end of the stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-160):
● Started 13th, finished sixth.
● “We’re just loose in when someone gets close behind me,” Busch said on lap 110 while running 14th.
● Busch cracked the top-10 on lap 124 with a pass of Erik Jones, and as others ahead of him began to pit, Busch continued to rise.
● By lap 127 Busch was in third place, and by lap 128 he was up to second. On lap 129, he retook the lead.
● Busch relinquished the lead on lap 136 and pitted for four tires and fuel.
● The No. 41 Ford restarted ninth on lap 157. Busch got a great restart and was sixth by the backstretch. That is where he finished.
● Busch qualified for the playoffs by virtue of his win in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
● Busch takes seven bonus points into the playoffs thanks to his Bristol victory and two stage wins.
● Joining Busch in the playoffs are his SHR teammates Kevin Harvick, Bowyer and Aric Almirola. SHR is the only four-car team to place all of its drivers in the playoffs.
● This was Busch’s 17th top-10 finish of 2018.
● Busch earned his sixth top-10 in 18 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis.
● Busch led twice for 19 laps to increase his laps-led total at Indianapolis to 22.
● Brad Keselowski won the Brickyard 400 to score his 26th career Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Indianapolis. His margin of victory over second-place Erik Jones was .904 of a second.
● Keselowski’s triumph delivered the 102nd points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 671st all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 39 laps.
● Only 22 of the 40 drivers in the Brickyard 400 finished on the lead lap.
1. Kevin Harvick (2,050 points)
2. Kyle Busch (2,050 points)
3. Martin Truex Jr. (2,035 points, -15)
4. Brad Keselowski (2,019 points, -31)
5. Clint Bowyer (2,015 points, -35)
6. Kurt Busch (2,014 points, -36)
7. Joey Logano (2,014 points, -36)
8. Chase Elliott (2,008 points, -42)
9. Ryan Blaney (2007 points, -43)
10. Erik Jones (2,005 points, -45)
11. Austin Dillon (2,005 points, -45)
12. Kyle Larson (2,005 points, -45)
13. Denny Hamlin (2,003 points, -47)
14. Aric Almirola (2,001 points, -49)
15. Jimmie Johnson (2,000 points, -50)
16. Alex Bowman (2,000 points, -50)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We have to stick with our strengths and that is consistency. We’ve qualified well all year. We’ve had good pit strategy and we just have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes that hurt us and we lose a lot of track position. Today, we had one bad pit stop and it’s like, ‘You know what, the car is fast.’ We just have to take our time getting back up there, instead of trying to blitz through there. Sometimes when you do that you get caught up in some wrecks, so, right now, it’s the Playoffs and we’ll just work our way through and advance through the rounds. I want to thank Haas Automation, Monster Energy and Ford.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the first race of the 10-race playoffs, and it starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at 1:30 p.m.