Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-30):
● Kyle Busch started second and finished first.
● The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread driver started the race in second place. After a scramble at the start, he settled into the second position.
● Busch spent the next several laps stalking race leader Kevin Harvick, eventually passing him for the lead on lap 19.
● A few laps after assuming the top spot, Busch reported that the car was handling on the loose side at the entry of both turns.
● Caution was displayed on lap 26 for the No. 20 car, which had gotten in the outside wall and left debris on the track.
● All but one driver made a trip to pit road. The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team changed four tires and added fuel. Busch won the race off pit road but restarted second because of the one driver that stayed out.
● Busch quickly retook the top spot and held on to win Stage 1.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 31-50):
● Busch started first and finished sixth.
● Stage 2 was slowed on the second lap for the No. 6 car, which went sailing through the grass. Busch maintained the top spot but noted that he still needed some help with the car’s handling at the entry of the turns, as well as the exit.
● Racing resumed with Busch in the lead, but he dropped back to second on lap 38. The handling issues continued to be a problem, and he lost a few more spots.
● The M&M’S Hazelnut Spread driver was scored in sixth place by the time Stage 2 concluded.
● The No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread team made wedge and air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel during the break. Busch returned to the track in sixth place.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 51-70):
● Busch started sixth and finished 18th.
● On lap 56 Busch made minor contact with the No. 3 car, which then got into the No. 20 car, forcing NASCAR to wave the caution flag. Busch came to pit road so the team could survey the damage on the right-side nose of the car. Rather than stopping again before the final stage, the team elected to change four tires.
● In an effort to preserve his tires for the final stage, Busch quietly logged laps to close out Stage 3. He finished 18th.
● The majority of the field made stops for tires before the start of Stage 4. Busch stayed out and was in fourth place for the restart.
Stage 4 Recap (Laps 61-85):
● Busch started fourth and finished third.
● After starting fourth, Busch quickly made a bid for the lead, trading the top spot back and forth with driver Chase Elliott before a caution was displayed for an accident on lap 75. Green-flag racing resumed but was slowed again on lap 77 for yet another incident.
● The green flag flew with Busch in second place. After creating some distance between himself and the third-place driver he set his sights on the leader. He was on the back bumper of race leader Kyle Larson with less than 10 laps to go when he made slight contact with the outside wall. He dropped back to third place, where he would finish the event.
● Busch led two times for a total of 15 laps of Saturday night’s All-Star.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“This M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Camry was fast but just not fast enough by itself on restarts. Probably was the only guy to pass for the lead after a given set of laps. On restarts, we couldn’t go anywhere, we just weren’t fast enough, but we had long run speed.”
Next Up: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to points-paying racing on Sunday, May 26, with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Cup Series schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.