MENCS Race Recaps

MENCS: Kyle Busch wins again in Thunder Valley

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For his second straight win of the year, and second straight at the track, Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

To be technical, Busch actually hasn’t lost a race he was entered in at BMS since the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series spring race; remember he swept the August race weekend.

Busch said the win “means a lot, you know, to come to Bristol, a place where everybody expects you to do so well, expects you to win, that we’re able to get one.¬†I wasn’t sure there late in the going with 50 to go with the vibrations and everything that I was feeling that I was going to be able to have a shot.”

“I knew we had a really good car. Once we got into the long runs, when we did get into the long runs, we were running them down. We were passing people, you know. The distance that Larson and I had on third place there before that last caution came out was a straightaway or something like that, and I was even slowing down because I felt like I was going to blow a tire, so I was trying to soften my blow.

Busch is also the point standings leader (365), 59 points ahead of second place, Joey Logano (309). In the race to get playoff points, Busch has tied Kevin Harvick with 12. With seven top-10s, two stage wins, and now two race wins, Busch has firmly asserted himself as a leading contender in this year’s championship race.

The last time the Las Vegas born driver finished outside of the top-10 was Daytona and the last time he failed to end the day in the t0p-five was Atlanta — he hasn’t finished outside the top-two since Fontana. Much was made of Harvick’s stint of three race wins, but Busch is just as prowling on track.

Given a gentle bump and run by Busch on lap 495, Kyle Larson finished second for his best finish of the year. Larson didn’t expect his car to be as loose as it was on the final run of the race.

“Not sure if the track changed a lot there or what, but I lost the balance on the car,” said Larson. After being passed by Busch, the younger of the Kyle’s knew “knew it would be hard to get back to (Busch). I knew I would need a lapper to kind of hold him up on exit and kill his momentum to allow me to maybe get back to his bumper, but there just weren’t a whole lot of cars left out there.”

Seven time champion, Jimmie Johnson came in third at BMS, for his best finish of the year. Last week Johnson was marred back in 35 after wrecking out of the 500 mile event at Texas Motor Speedway. Now, after getting his first top-five of the year, and second top-10, Johnson believes momentum can be carried over from race weekend to race weekend.

“Yeah, I think most situations momentum does carry you up or down.††If things seem to be going wrong, they continue for a while.††Sometime it’ll turn around, you just don’t know when.††And I think in most cases, you’re right.††I have experienced it in my career where we have had different dry spells, and we’ll get the car going well, and I’ll make a mistake, or the car going well and we have a bad pit stop, or just unlucky, and it takes a little while — I can’t explain why or how, but it takes a little while to get the momentum rolling in the right direction, and I think today was†– the last two days was a big step in the right direction for us.”

After starting near the front, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was involved in a wreck not long after the Food City 500 began Sunday afternoon. The Roush Fenway Racing driver and team didn’t let up, they were still in the hunt when the race resumed on Monday, thanks to rain that drenched the entire state Sunday evening. By the end of the race Stenhouse was a true contender, nearly passing Larson for the lead, but when the checkered flew he drove under the flagman fourth.

Alew Bowman was fifth, getting his first top-five of the year.

NASCAR officials and BMS workers applied a home brewed version of trackbite (commonly used on drag strips) to the very bottom lane of the corners, like has been done over the past year or so. This time they made this groove even narrower, really forcing drivers to drive as low as possible. To the delight of fans, the concept worked; however, the middle lane did make an appearance. Those who were fast could work there cars on the bottom or middle of the race track.

Johnson said he, “felt like the†– probably about the 40- or 50-lap mark, the top would start to come in, and the long green flag run we had, I guess, two runs from the end, it was working pretty good up there.††I just think on the short run and as cold as it is, there’s just enough grip to use the shortest way around to create lap time.††Once the tires wore enough, then you’d move up.††But if you put us in yesterday’s temperatures, I think we would have been up higher a lot sooner.”

This week NASCAR will tackle Richmond Raceway, but no performance enhancers will be applied to the three-quarter-mile D-shaped oval. Last Fall Martin Truex Jr. led much of the race but was snubbed from a victory during an overtime wreck.

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