Busch, No. 18 Team Claim Four Post-Race Awards In Kentucky Victory
Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team started in the front of the pack and was strengthened by strong restarts and pit stops to lead a race-high 125 laps on their way to victory at the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway last weekend. The win, which gave Kyle Busch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead, also resulted in four post race contingency awards for the team.
Busch’s strong start pushed the No. 18 Toyota Camry to the front, leading most of the first half of the race. As the event progressed, cautions put extra importance on restarts, a skill at which Busch excels. On the final restart, he fought off five-time champion Jimmie Johnson with two laps remaining, helping him earn the American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award, provided to the driver that records the fastest average speed on restarts and finishes the race on the lead lap. Busch also recorded the fastest lap of the race to capture the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award.
When Busch relinquished the lead later in the race, strong pit stops helped get him back in front and gave crew chief Dave Rogers his fifth DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race Award, which is awarded based on combined starting and finishing position. Finally, JGR head engine builder Mark Cronquist captured his fourth MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award of the season. The award is earned for providing consistent power based on qualifying and finishing position.
“I think Kyle and Dave will both tell you it's a total team sport,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “When I watch these guys going over the wall, that group is awesome, I got to tell you. Dave made great calls. Certainly the whole team performed extremely well.”
The awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
“I was pretty confident that we were the car to beat,” said Busch after the race. “Whether you stay the car to beat is the next question because how long this race is, how you change from daytime to twilight to nighttime, the track goes through a lot of different changes. Dave had to do a lot of thinking on his own that I was telling him the car is good, but he would still make a change knowing what the track is going to do. That's just experience. Knowing this race track pretty well, for us it worked well. We kept up with it.”
Busch takes his point lead into Sunday’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, TNT).
Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
- AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Kyle Busch
- COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: N/A
- DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Dave Rogers (crew chief for Kyle Busch)
- GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Kyle Busch (175.718 mph, Lap 261)
- MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Mark Cronquist, Joe Gibbs Racing, No 18
- MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: David Reutimann
- MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Paul Wolfe, 0.482 secs (crew chief for Brad Keselowski)
- O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Denny Hamlin (15 places)
- SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Andy Lally