|Monster Energy/Haas Automation Driver Notches First Win of Season|
|Date: Aug. 18, 2018
Event: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th/1st (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (796 points, 207 out of first)
Race Winner: Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney for Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):
● Kurt Busch started ninth, finished seventh, collecting four bonus points.
● The Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford was involved in a multicar accident on lap three and sustained minor hood damage.
● On lap 11, Busch pitted for hood repair only and restarted 29th on lap 13.
● Busch returned to pit road on lap 63 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He came in 15th and went out 15th.
● Was in the top-10 by lap 85.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):
● Busch started fifth, finished ninth, collecting two bonus points.
● The Monster Energy/Haas Automation driver pitted on lap 130 for four tires and fuel.
● Busch pitted under caution for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):
● Busch started sixth, finished first, collecting five playoff points for scoring the victory.
● The Monster Energy/Haas Automation driver pitted on lap 254 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Busch was in the top-three from lap 255-353 and pitted on lap 354 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Busch lined up beside teammate Clint Bowyer on the lap-477 restart and was able to clear Bowyer as he exited turn two. From there, Busch survived one more restart and outlasted Kyle Larson on newer tires to bring home the win.
● Busch won the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race to score his 30th career Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his sixth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was .367 of a second.
● Busch’s triumph delivered the 100th points-paying victory for Ford’s Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was Ford’s 669th all-time win in the NASCAR Cup Series and its 37th victory at Bristol.
● It was also his 11th top-five and 18th top-10 at the .533-mile oval.
● Busch led once for 24 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 1,086.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 70 laps.
● Only 15 of the 40 drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race finished on the lead lap.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Describe the victory tonight.
“It’s awesome to do it at Bristol. I love this place. We now have won six times here, and I have great teams that have always helped me win. This group of guys, Billy Scott, my crew chief, this is his first win, and to be able to do it with Ford and Monster and Haas Automation is just what it’s all about. It’s executing as a team, and we had good restarts when we had to, and then you’ve got to get clever and start throwing everything at it.”
How did you take the lead?
“It was up to (Clint) Bowyer to choose the lane. He chose the outside, and we got a perfect start on the inside. I dug it perfect right into turn one and two, and the spotter said, ‘Take it. Take it.’ – which meant go to the wall on exit, and I didn’t even bother to look in the mirror. He said, ‘Take it,’ and when you trust your team to give you the right stuff setup-wise, you’ve got to trust the spotter the same way. Tony Raines. He’s a racer. That’s why he’s my spotter, and it worked out perfect.”
How big is it to solidify a playoff spot tonight?
“It just matters to win. It’s all about winning. I’m glad we did. We’ve been the most consistent team this year that hasn’t won. I wasn’t worried about not making the Playoffs, so we could kind of treat these races coming up as free-for-alls, and we’re just gonna keep going after it. The Southern 500 is after this week off, and we’ve got Indianapolis, and then my hometown kicks off the Playoffs, so we’re all about these next 12.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 2 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN beginning at 5 p.m.