Date: June 13, 2020
Event: Baptist Health 200 (Race 5 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 30 laps/30 laps/74 laps
Start/Finish: 2nd/1st (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Kyle Busch overcame serving a pass-through penalty at the start of Saturday night’s Baptist Health 200 to pick up his record-extending 58th win in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Despite serving the penalty on lap one and then brushing the wall while trying to remain on the lead lap in the early stages of the event, he was able to put the Cessna Tundra out front for a race-high 82 laps en route to his second Gander Trucks victory this season and his 211th win across NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Stage One Recap:
- Busch was supposed to start in the second position based on a random draw in tiers by 2020 Gander Trucks owner’s points, but due to a pre-race inspection infraction had to start at the rear of the field and serve a pass-though penalty on lap 1.
- After serving the penalty, the Cessna Tundra returned to the track scored in the 37th position, but remained ahead of the leader. While trying to get a feel for his truck but having to remain ahead of the leader, Busch brushed the right side of his Tundra against the outside wall. The damage was minimal and he was able to maintain his position on the lead lap until the competition caution flew on lap 16.
- Before hitting pit road, Busch communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that his No. 51 Toyota was a “little free in the back.” The over-the-wall crew cleared the tires from the fenders, put some bear bond on the right rear and made a trackbar adjustment before returning their driver to the track scored in the 33 position for the Lap-20 restart.
- A four-truck accident on Lap 21 brought out a lengthy delay, which saw Busch hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel before the field went back green.
- Busch restarted 33rd with two laps remaining in the opening stage and remained there over the final two circuits electing to preserve his tires for the start of Stage Two.
Stage Two Recap:
- With several drivers on the same strategy, Busch restarted in the ninth position when Stage Two went green on Lap 35. One lap and one bold move later, he had maneuvered his way up to the runner-up spot and on Lap 38 he put the Cessna Tundra out front for the first time of the night.
- Stage Two would go start to finish under green flag conditions with Busch picking up his fifth stage win of the season.
Final Stage Recap:
- After pitting between stages for four fresh tires and fuel, Busch led the field to the start of the Final Stage on Lap 66 and would remain there until he pitted again under green-flag conditions on Lap 94.
- On Lap 104, he had cycled back up to the third position with the top two still having yet to pit when the field was slowed for the sixth time.
- Despite having only six laps on the tires of the Cessna Tundra, Stockman summoned his driver to pit road for the team’s final set of sticker tires and a full load of fuel knowing that tire wear but fresh tires at a premium. A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew put Busch in the third position for the ensuing restart on Lap 110, behind two competitors who elected not to pit.
- “Rowdy” quickly made his way to the front of the field and began to open up a sizable lead. The No. 51 team had opened up a lead of over three seconds when a one-truck accident slowed the field for the seventh and final time on Lap 124.
- Knowing everyone would be pitting, Stockman elected to bring his boss down pit road, where the over-the-wall crew had re-glued six-lap tires and put them back on the truck. Once again Busch prevailed on the restart and crossed the finish line 2.847 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Tyler Ankrum.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Cessna Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How concerned were you with other trucks restarting behind you with fresher tires?
“You’re always concerned about tires being better and having the opportunity to out-show you. Felt like six laps was just the right amount and any more than that, it probably would have been a different outcome. Can’t say enough about this Cessna Beechcraft Toyota Tundra, it was awesome tonight. It’s been awesome all year, we’ve just had some fluke things that have kind of taken us out of the running. The last restart there with Ross (Chastain) behind me, he got a good launch and I got a good shove from him down the frontstretch and then there was room there in the middle for him. Obviously, here we go. Had to give him room and we just tried to race it out on the outside and see what happens off of turn two. Just able to get that momentum off the outside. I didn’t lift much through the corner and just got that run and then those guys got side-by-side and that let me get away. Really good race for us and proud of everybody at KBM, proud of the effort. I know we’ve got issues and we’ll continue to work on that and get better.”
Was this good medicine for the last couple races after being able to make it back from the penalties to start the race?
“Yes and no. We’ve thrown away the last two races. This is how we’re supposed to perform and run and look. The deal with the infraction was a fluke deal, that’s how these trucks were allowed to run last time we were down here in Homestead. This thing has just been sitting on the side waiting for me to get behind the wheel of it and it didn’t go to the fab shop so it didn’t get a bar cut out that was legal here last year and not legal here this year. Not sure there was a performance advantage to it, just something we’ve been running and not allowed to do it anymore.”
What was your mindset going into the race knowing you had to start at the back of the field?
“Nothing we were going to do about it so we just had to work on what we had thrown at us and what we were going to have to overcome. I knew the Cessna Beechcraft Toyota Tundra here was going to be awesome. Thanks to TRD and Rowdy Energy, everybody that helps us here and makes us so fast and want to say thanks to Big Machine Hand Sanitizer as well, they were on the quarter panel the last two weeks and we didn’t win and now they’re not here and we won. I think there’s something to that and I am a bit superstitous. Just trying to remain calm and knowing that we had a fast piece. We actually thought and we timed it out, that I was going to be a lap down. When it all shook out to where I wasn’t a lap down, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s just roll here, we’re going to be fine and that changes the complexion entirely of what we thought we were going to have to do.”
Baptist Health 200 Recap:
- Kyle Busch picked up his second Gander Trucks wins of 2020 and the 58th of his career. Tyler Ankrum crossed the stripe 2.847 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up position. Ross Chastain came home third, Chase Elliott was fourth and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 34 laps. There were eight lead changes among six drivers, including Busch who led twice for a race-high 82 laps.
How Busch’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished eighth
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 11th
Gander Trucks Championship Standings: The No. 51 team remains atop the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series standings. After five races, including two wins, the No. 51 team leads the No. 16 team by nine tallies.
Next Race: Brandon Jones will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 DuPont Air Filtration Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action June 27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Live coverage of the race begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1.