Busch Brings Home Solid Finish in Budweiser Shootout; Despite Ill-Handling Car, M&M's Team Posts Fourth-Place at Daytona Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), battled a tight-handling racecar all night...
Busch Brings Home Solid Finish in Budweiser Shootout; Despite Ill-Handling Car, M&M's Team Posts Fourth-Place at Daytona
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), battled a tight-handling racecar all night long but still managed to bring home a solid fourth-place finish in Saturday night's non-points Budweiser Shootout NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
"The last lap got a bit hairy, there, in (turn) three, but we made it through," said Busch, who posted his career-best Budweiser Shootout finish. "We didn't quite have the car we were looking for tonight, unfortunately. I have to apologize to our fans. The M&M's Camry just didn't quite have enough in order to be able to turn in the exit of the corners. I couldn't keep the throttle down the way that I wanted. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and I will go to work and fix it up to get it ready for the (Daytona) 500. This isn't the same car, but we know what we need to do, or at least we have some ideas, anyway. I'm really proud of the way the guys worked. We just have to go back to the drawing board a little bit."
After starting in 17th, Busch battled a racecar that was especially tight on corner exit and sat near the back of the lead draft for the first 25 laps of the 76-lap race, which was extended one lap due to a green-white-checker finish.
Despite the fact the handling was not to his liking, the talented 24-year-old held his ground until crew chief Dave Rogers and the M&M's team were able to make wholesale changes under a 10-minute break at the 25-lap mark. During the break, Rogers made wedge, air pressure, and shock adjustments in hopes of making the M&M's Toyota roll better off the exit of the corner.
While his changes helped improve the handling slightly, Busch decided to run the high line as much as possible the remainder of the race, since his car was just too tight to hold the bottom of the track.
Even with the handling issues, the Las Vegas native had moved up to the sixth position when a caution came out with just four laps remaining. The following lap, Rogers decided to bring Busch down pit road for another set of wedge and air pressure adjustments and just two right-side tires.
Busch sat in the fifth position when the race restarted the final time on lap 74 and hoped to have an opportunity to race for the win. But, a multi-car accident that occurred by the time the field entered turn four froze the field and ended any shot he had at walking away with a victory.
Busch's JGR teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano -- finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
Next up for the M&M's team is the Gatorade Duel -- twin 150-mile heat races that set the majority of the 43-car Daytona 500 field.