Yesterday’s ISM Raceway Monster Energy NASCAR Cup marked a hat trick number of wins for Kevin Harvick, but the No. 18 Toyota of Kyle Busch was knocking on the door. Kyle Busch ended up coming away in second and reflected on the race in the ISM Raceway media center Sunday evening.
Kyle Busch’s Impression of Sunday’s Race Final Laps
“The 11 was holding up the 4 for a little bit,” Busch said.
“It was to our advantage actually, just being able to kind of save my tires a little bit. Slowly, but surely kind of worked my way in there, closed the gap to those guys. Once I got in there, I tried to pounce as quick as I could to get through there, which helped and got us the lead.”
Green Flag Pit Stop
Busch said the events when it came time for green flag pit stops was the big determination for the way the race played out,
“Coming into the green flag stops, had a couple guys pit a little bit before us,” Busch said.
“I don’t think that hurt us too bad, but the jack dropping certainly did. We lost the race on pit road today. There [have] been races where I’ve won it on pit road, too.”
Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing Early in the season
When the checkered flag dropped, all four of the JGR cars, plus Martin Truex, Jr. (JGR partner) and SHR all finished in the top 10. Kyle Busch said statistically their Toyotas and SHR’s Fords represented the early 2018 favorites but noted it’s pretty close to last year’s early top five.
“All in all, I think the guys at Stewart‑Haas have done a fantastic job late last year of finding some speed, even though they felt like they were behind,” Busch said.
“They didn’t, but somebody else did. But they went to work and did a really good job and were fast. The 4 car made it to the final race. He was fast in the final race.”
The No. 18 driver said SHR picked up where they left off at the end of the 2017 season.
“With some of the rule changes that happened over the off‑season, we felt like that slowed our stuff down a little bit,” he said.
“Didn’t slow theirs down near as much. Playing a little bit of a catch‑up game to see where we needed improvements to get our stuff going better. It’s pretty good to know we’re a little bit off now but we’re finishing second each week.”
After three straight wins, Harvick is the definite early favorite in the 2018 season. Busch said it was a challenge.
“I don’t think anybody’s got anything for Harvick, considering we got our butt beat so bad last week, then we just got beat a little bit this week,” he said.
Teammate or Rival?
Busch was questioned if battled the lead, he’d rather be competing against a teammate or someone else. Busch said he thought a non-teammate was preferable.
“Any time you race a teammate, you got to do it clean,” Busch said.
“As least I could lay a fender to the 4 probably. Teammates are a lot harder to race. You got to respect them a little bit more. That’s the situation that we’ve been through, Denny and I. Some of our other teammates have been through it. It’s way easier to race somebody else for a different organization.”
West Coast Swing Continues
NASCAR’s third and final stop on its early season West Coast swing this weekend will be at Auto Club Speedway for Sunday, March 18 Auto Club 400 3:30 pm. Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is Friday at 7:15 pm on Fox Sports 1.