“It’s an awesome team and awesome group of guys,” said Busch. “Can’t say enough about everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. All the men and women there that work so hard to prepare such great race cars that I get to drive. M&M’s and Toyota – and it’s Veteran’s Day. I want to say thank you to all the veterans out there for everything that you all have sacrificed for us and done for our freedom in this country. Cool to race on Veteran’s Day. This is a sport that everybody loves to come out and participate in and be a part of whether it’s the military, whether it’s the fans that support the military – it’s awesome to have all that here in NASCAR.”
After winning the pole, Harvick led the way alongside Chase Elliott. Harvick would take the lead and lead the first 72 laps of the race before losing a tire with less than three laps remaining in the first stage. Elliott kept Harvick within arm’s length and when the No. 4 lost the right front tire, Elliott took the lead and the stage victory.
Stage One Results: 9, 12, 11, 41, 2, 42, 18, 20, 88, and 3
On the restart, Elliott and Kurt Busch led the field to green. Busch would take the lead from Elliott as both were battling for their spot in the Championship Round at Homestead. Keselowski would move around Elliott and begin pulling closer and closer to Kurt Busch.
By this point, Harvick would make it to 14th but with the laps winding down, he’d need to make up some more time in order to gain any points on Kyle Busch and Truex Jr.
With less than 20 laps remaining in stage two, Clint Bowyer lost a tire in Turns 3 and 4 and bounced off the wall hard. He would drive his No. 14 back to the garage but would be out of the race, ending his chances of making the Championship Round.
“I guess we cut a left-rear tire down,” said Bowyer. “I don’t know if it’s a product of being able to get down on the back straightaway off the race track like that. At the end of the day it’s pretty unique. We travel all across the country running on race tracks that we race on the race track and this one we spend more time off of it. It’s fun to be able to do that, but I don’t know. After I saw the 22 and then felt my left-rear go, maybe that was a product of that. We’ve run low air on these short tracks like this on our left sides and maybe that was it. It’s just kind of the way our Playoffs are going. It’s frustrating. We’ve had a great year getting to where we were part of this Playoff situation and being in contention to be able to run for a championship… It’s a hell of a crowd today, appreciate everybody coming out. Unfortunately, we were a caution. You never want to be a caution.”
Austin Dillon would win the race off pit road but Harvick and Truex Jr. would stay out. During that round of stops, Busch was handed a penalty for passing the pit car which results in a one-lap penalty for the No. 41 car. Busch had led 52 laps before being handed that penalty.
As noted, Truex Jr. didn’t pit which gave him the lead. Kyle Busch would make the pass on Truex with less than seven laps remaining and Busch would rocket away earning the stage victory and the important 10 points for winning the stage.
Stage Two Results: 18, 2, 78, 4, 42, 3, 9, 12, 24, and 10
Kyle Busch elected to stay out during that caution, Busch would keep the lead with Keselowski and Denny Hamlin in tow. Busch kept his car up front but Keselowski began reeling away the margin with still a good chunk of the race remaining.
With less than 90 laps remaining, Elliott took the lead from Busch. Just as Busch lost the lead, he came down pit road for service after leading every lap so far of the final stage. While the green flag stops were underway, Tanner Berryhill spun at the entrance of pit road causing the caution which trapped a lot of the leaders a lap down including Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and others.
While those drivers took the wave around, Kurt Busch was awarded the free pass. The speeding police would be on the lookout during this round of stops, and they would snag Elliott pushing him to the rear of the field at that restart, with the drivers who had to take the wave around.
Keselowski would lead the field to green and lead the race as things behind them started boiling. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Busch and Harvick would battle for that final transfer spot with just a few points separating the two. As the two were making their way past the slower cars, David Ragan would run out of room to get out of the way and he’d get bumped by Harvick spinning him resulting in a caution.
Keselowski led the field to green again and kept the lead while Busch would continue trying to make ground away from Harvick. With less than 50 laps remaining, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost a tire and slammed the outside wall in turns three and four resulting in yet another caution which would force the hand of some drivers at the poker table. The red flag would later be displayed.
The red flag would last 10 minutes and 28 seconds.
On the restart, Busch went to take the lead but Hamlin was above him. They scraped the wall and it triggered the accident involving Hamlin, Busch, Elliott, and others. This accident would end the championship hopes for both Busch and Elliott which means Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch clinched their spots for Homestead.
The only concern for Harvick at this point would be his teammate Almirola, who hadn’t been talked about all day long. Almirola sat seventh during the restart. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Erik Jones and Busch would lead the field to green with Jones holding the lead for a few laps until Busch made the pass for the lead.
Almirola would begin fighting for the lead making aggressive passes just waiting for that yellow flag. Alex Bowman just went up in flames going into turns one and two and spun up the track resulting in a caution and ultimately a red.
Larson would have to come down pit road pushing Almirola into third and Harvick into second. Busch and Harvick would lead the field to green with Busch taking the lead. Almirola would get very close to the No. 18 but it wouldn’t be enough. The caution would be displayed for the No. 97 of Berryhill setting up another restart with less than 15 laps remaining.
Busch and Almirola would lead the field to green. Almirola would have a bad restart giving the lead to Busch and it would ultimately seal the deal for Busch to earn his 51st career victory.
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