Joe Gibbs Racing
M&M’s Red, White and Blue Driver Comes Home a Strong Third at Charlotte
Another NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and another top-five finish for Kyle Busch.
Busch fought his way to a third-place finish in Sunday’s night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, marking the fourth top-five finish in the last four races for the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). It also marked Busch’s fifth consecutive top-10 finish.
“It was a really good race for us – the M&M’s Camry was awesome,” said Busch, who has 10 top-10 finishes at Charlotte in 17 starts, including six finishes in the top-three. “We definitely fought our battles there throughout it and 600 miles is a long day. Dave Rogers (crew chief) did a great job, and these guys did a good job giving me a good car tonight. We just missed it on a couple runs there and got ourselves a little bit too far behind.
“We’re keeping our string of good, strong finishes going and that’s what’s important right now, to get ourselves locked in the Chase.”
After starting 17th Sunday night, Busch wasted no time showing just how strong his M&M’s Red, White and Blue Toyota Camry was as it took just over 40 laps before the No. 18 made its first appearance in the top-10. And, once in the top-10, Busch never looked back and continued his march to the front.
Quick pit stops, solid adjustments on pit road and a fast racecar vaulted Busch to the lead on lap 121. It was the first of three times that Busch led Sunday’s night’s 400-lap race for a total of 55 tours of the circuit. But while Busch was able to get to the front, he couldn’t hold onto the top spot for good.
“We were just missing a little bit of something tonight – just something that we lack a little bit of speed or a bit of longevity, sometimes, throughout the runs,” Busch said. “I want to win at Charlotte so bad. It’s a little frustrating being able to finish in the top-five like that all the time when you are that close. It’s also good to finish like that. We just need to carry on that momentum. This is a good race for us so we can bring back some good notes for when we come back in October.”
Busch’s JGR companions – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished second and 23rd, respectively.
Kasey Kahne won the Coca-Cola 600 to score his 13th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his fourth at Charlotte and, in doing so, he set a record pace of three hours, 51 minutes and 14 seconds.
Hamlin finished 4.295 seconds behind Kahne in the runner-up spot, while Busch, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 23 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
With round 12 of 36 complete, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He is third with 437 points, 16 behind series leader Biffle. Busch stands eighth with 391 points, 62 out of first. Logano is 16th with 314 points, 139 away from the top spot.