|Date: July 14, 2018
Event: Kentucky 400 (Round 19 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th/6th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 7th (601 points, 198 out of first)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kurt Busch started ninth, finished 14th.
● Busch’s No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford was tight throug the first half of Stage 1, dropping him to 10th by lap 32.
● Crew chief Billy Scott opted to keep Busch out during green-flag pit stops, allowing Busch to assume the lead on lap 40.
● On lap 51, Busch radioed to his crew that his car was, “Feelin’ good.” Team decided to stay out 10 more laps before pitting.
● Busch gave up the lead on lap 60 to bring the No. 41 machine to the pits for four tires and fuel.
● At the conclusion of Stage 1, the No. 41 team gambled on pit strategy, taking only right-side tires and fuel to win the race off pit road.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Started second, finished seventh, earning four bonus points.
● On lap 88, Busch took the lead from fellow Ford driver Joey Logano.
● After a caution on lap 111, Busch brought his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford to pit road for four tires and fuel along with a tire pressure adjustment.
● Restarted 10th on lap 115.
● Busch climbed to seventh by lap 136 and reported his racecar was “Getting a little freer.”
● At the end of Stage 2, Busch pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Started ninth and finished sixth.
● Busch was running in the fifth position by lap 192.
● Busch took advantage of a caution on lap 208 to pit for fuel and right-side tires only to again win the race off pit road.
● This strategy gave Busch the lead on lap 210, and he led the next 14 circuits around the 1.5-mile oval.
● With only two fresh tires, Busch eventually relinquished the lead to those who had taken four new tires, and he ultimately finished sixth in the Kentucky 400.
● This was Busch’s 10th top-10 finish of 2018.
● Busch earned his fifth top-10 in eight career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky.
● Busch led three times for 45 laps to increase his laps-led total at Kentucky to 96.
● Martin Truex Jr. won the Kentucky 400 to score his 19th career Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 1.901 seconds.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 22 laps.
● Twenty-one of the 39 drivers in the Kentucky 400 finished on the lead lap.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I really enjoyed the way Billy Scott (crew chief) called the race because our lap times were really strong on the super-long runs, and that’s why he left me out there in Stage 1. We didn’t get points, but it put us in good position for Stage 2, and then we were ahead of the game to make a call again. It just kept us ahead the whole night. Even though we didn’t have the fastest car, we led a lot of laps tonight and it was fun to have the Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford out front. We probably would’ve ended up seventh and we finished sixth. It was a good battle.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at noon.