TALLADEGA, Al.— Although he had a strong third place run going, Kyle Busch was critical of his teammates and their help during the GEICO 500.
When it comes to restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing form a pact to draft together in an effort to work their way to the front for a potential victory at Talladega.
Busch was able to show the strength of Joe Gibbs Racing, but his teammates were nowhere to be found to help him score the potential victory after leading the race when the white flag fell.
“Everybody was all kind of mixed up – there was a Ford, there was a Chevy – so it was just all over the place. Certainly myself and the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin), we all worked really well together today and it was fun to have comradery today with teammates, but they weren’t there for us at the end,” Busch explained post-race.
Busch led a race high go 48 laps. Had the final caution not fell, sending the race into overtime, due to an accident involving Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Chris Buescher on the backstretch, Busch would have been the victor in the GEICO 500. But due to the drafting help Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. received from Jamie McMurray, Busch lost the lead to finish in the third position.
“When they have too big of a run and you can’t do anything about it,” Busch explained. “Stenhouse got a really good run and a good push and got by us there and then it was just about retaliation to get back on him and I just never had enough help from behind and just never got together.”
Busch was able to get the jump on restarts in the closing stages of the race, and explained how he was able to get the advantage.
“Maybe it was everybody sleeping,” he answered. “ I don't know. But it certainly was working, and that was sort of my strategy was to get it where I was single file and I could choose a lane and see which one had the momentum behind me. If I was stuck side by side with the bottom line, I never had that opportunity in order to protect both lanes. I seem to be able to do a good job at that, I just don't know how it all fell apart there in the last lap or two for us that we couldn't get to where we needed to be.”
Busch settled for third, but remains confident heading into Kansas.
“We did all we could here today and it’s all circumstantial on how you win these things,” he said. “Unfortunately our circumstances didn’t quite go our way, but we go to a real race track next week and we’ll try to win there.”
Larson Rebounds From Early Struggles
TALLADEGA, Al.— Kyle Larson did not have the day he was hoping for in the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway. After starting from the 21st position, Larson was in danger right from the get-go.
In the first 20 laps of the race, Larson hit the wall on the backstretch while in the middle of the pack on the backstretch. Shortly after he hit the wall, the right front tire blew sending Larson into the turn one wall on lap 18. According to Goodyear, the tire blew due to the contact with the wall.
Larson and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing quickly went to work to repair the car. Larson would not be in contention to win the race, but continued to battle through the event. Larson and his crew were able to finish sixth in the second stage to gain five driver championship points.
Finding their niche in the race, Larson and his crew set quietly waiting to pounce. That opportunity ran itself short as Larson rallied to finish in the 12th position.
Despite his struggles, Larson was able to extend his points lead over Martin Truex, Jr. from 40 points after Richmond to 54 points after the GEICO 500 at Talladega.
Stenhouse Jr. Scores First Career Victory at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Al— For the first time of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was victorious in the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway after a late race charge to the front in a green, white, checkered scenario. Stenhouse Jr. was able to hold off Kyle Busch in the final two laps to head towards victory. This is Roush-Fenway’s first victory since Carl Edwards went to victory lane in 2014 at Sonoma. This is Ford’s fifth win in a row on restrictor plate tracks.
“This is for all the guys at the shop. We’ve been terrible for a long time. This year, every race we’re getting better and better. We knew that Talladega was a good race track for us. It’s been a good one in the past and I’m just glad we parked it for my buddy, Bryan Clauson,” Stenhouse Jr. stated. “He was with us on that last lap. This Fifth Third Bank Ford was so fast today – qualified on the pole and got the win. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s cool to have Jack Roush back in Victory Lane, Ford Performance, Fastenal, Sunny D. I’m gonna have a Sunny D in the morning, maybe a little later. This is cool. The closest race track to my hometown and the fans were out here this weekend.”
Jamie McMurray finished in the second position. McMurray was quiet throughout much of the day at Talladega, despite a few spotters complaining in the early stages of the race about his driving style and potentially causing a wreck.
“I mean it’s really circumstantial as to what the guys do in front of you and what is happening behind you. I just got a run at the right time. I thought the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) was going to get a little bit further out, but when we were coming to the line it just seemed like his car wasn’t going at that point, so it was a good finish. It was a great race,” said McMurray I’m glad everybody is okay, that was a really scary wreck on the backstretch, but really good day for our McDonald’s Chevrolet. We had good pit stops and the guys did a great job.”
Ky. Busch was leading the race at the advertised distance of 188 laps, but a late race caution sent the race in overtime ultimately sending him to a third place finish. Busch was not a happy camper when it came to the GEICO 500.
“When they have too big of a run and you can’t do anything about it. (Ricky) Stenhouse got a really good run and a good push and got by us there and then it was just about retaliation to get back on him and I just never had enough help from behind and just never got together. I just can’t say enough about this Skittles American Mix Camry – it was really fast,” said Ky. Busch. “The guys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job and TRD with everyone on this motor, it was awesome. We did all we could here today and it’s all circumstantial on how you win these things. Unfortunately our circumstances didn’t quite go our way, but we go to a real race track next week and we’ll try to win there.”
Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, and David Ragan rounded out the top-10.
Kyle Larson still holds the points lead over Martin Truex, Jr by 54 points. Keselowski is 61 points back in third, Chase Elliott is 75 points back in fourth, and McMurray rounds out the top-five in points only 110 back from Larson.
The GEICO 500 was slowed eight times for 33 laps. There was one red flag period for a total of 26 minutes and 51 seconds. There were 26 different lead changes amongst 14 different drivers with Ky. Busch leading the most at 48 laps. The first two stages were one by Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. The time of the race was three hours, 29 minutes, and 16 seconds.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a Saturday night trip to Kansas Speedway for the Go Bowling 400.
Kennedy Scores Top-Five at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Al.— In only his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series start, Ben Kennedy was able to snag a fourth place finish in Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.
Kennedy will race nine times with Richard Childress Racing, while racing for GMS Racing for 12 races
The long off season for Kennedy was full of preparation, including competing in “America Ninja Warrior”. Kennedy spent time at track learning how Austin Dillon interacted with crew chief, Justin Alexander. Kennedy has also watched extensive amounts of film in preparation for running in the Xfiniy Series.
At Talladega, that hard work paid off.
Kennedy started the weekend strong in the only two practice sessions where he was third and fourth. Kennedy also had a strong showing in qualifying on Saturday morning Kennedy was able to make it to the second round and ended up qualifying fourth.
When the green flag fell, Kennedy quickly worked his way to the lead. Kennedy led for five laps throughout the event. Although it was a fourth place finish, Kennedy avoided numerous wrecks in his quest for a top-five finish.
"I learned a lot out there today in the Rheem Chevrolet,” said Kennedy. “I knocked the rust off of it the first couple of laps and then started to get after it. On the last lap, Joey Logano and I had a run, but we just kind of lost our momentum on the high side. It's amazing how these cars run and the lines they run. I got a lot out of today and I'm really happy with the finish. It was a lot of fun.”
Kennedy’s next NASCAR Xfinity Series race will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300.
Hayley Scores Talladega ARCA Victory
TALLADEGA, Al.— As many drivers were losing fuel, Justin Hayley will win a relatively calm General Tire 200 from Talladega Superspeedway. A late race caution from a spin by Bret Holmes on the white flag lap left the race with a one lap shootout. Brandon Lynn ran out of fuel under the yellow flag which gave Justin Hayley the lead.
“That was crazy. Qualifying got cancelled and we had to work our way from the back. We had some ignition issues halfway through the race. We had to race back through it. I can’t say enough about these MBM Motorsports guys. I always wanted to run ‘Dega. I can’t thank MBM guys enough,” Hayley told Fox Sports 2.
This is Hayley’s first career ARCA superspeedway win. He outlasted Andy Seuss by 0.108 seconds. This is Hayley’s 13th ARCA start
For Suess, his day was relatively quiet. Suess was able to work his way to the second position in the General Tire 200.
Spencer Davis finished third. Austin Theriault was up front for most of the race, but finished fourth. Shane Lee was also up front for most of the race and rounded out the top-five.
While all his competitors for the points lead crashed, Theriault was able to extend his points lead. Theriault also led the most laps at 24.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is a trip to Toledo Speedway. The race will be live on MAVTV and arcaracing.com on May 21st beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST.