Kyle Busch, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry
Race Recap for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Date: Oct. 17, 2021
Event: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (105 laps/105 laps/124 laps)
Start/Finish: 3rd /8th (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (4,063 points, 8 points above the top-four cutoff)
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-105):
● Kyle Busch started third and finished first, earning 10 bonus points.
● The Interstate Batteries driver jumped to second place once the field took the green flag. He maintained the position for a handful of laps before dropping to fifth place by the time the competition cautioned waved on lap 25.
● Busch made a trip to pit road during the caution for right-side tires and fuel. As he was making a stop on pit road, Busch had to take evasive action to avoid a stopped car and wound up speeding. He had to start at the end of the field in 33rd place after making an extra trip to pit road to also change left-side tires and top off the fuel.
● Green-flag racing resumed but not for long, as a big accident unfolded on the backstretch collecting multiple cars. Busch was able to avoid most of the melee, suffering only minor damage to the left-rear area of the car. He made a trip to pit road for tires and fuel, along with some sheet metal repair work. He lined up 26th for the restart.
● Busch patiently logged laps, racing back to the top-20 by lap 44 and the top-10 by lap 63.
● As the first stage came to a close, the majority of the field had to make their respective trips to pit road for tires and fuel. Because the No. 18 Interstate Batteries team had topped off multiple times prior to the long, green-flag run, they were able to stretch the fuel mileage.
● Busch took the lead on lap 96 and maintained the top spot to the end of Stage 1, collecting the victory and corresponding bonus points.
● During the caution Busch reported that the car was handling on the tight side, mostly in turns one and two. The team made some air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel. Busch won the race off pit road to line up first to start Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 106-210):
● Busch started first and finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
● The two-time NASCAR champion lost the lead on lap 117 after a tight battle with driver Kyle Larson. He lost another position a few laps later before settling into a competitive pace in third for the next several laps.
● Busch was in third place on lap 148 when he reported that the Interstate Batteries racecar had started Stage 2 on the loose side. As the run continued, however, the balance on the car improved to a more neutral handling situation.
● On lap 162 Busch noted that the handling had started to trend to the tight side. Caution waved three laps later for debris.
● After making a trip to pit road for four tires and fuel, Busch lined up second for the restart. During the next several laps he proceeded to lose positions on the track, settling in at 10th place on lap 185. He reported that the car had no grip.
● Busch maintained the position to the end of the stage, finishing 10th.
● During the caution the team changed four tires, made a round of adjustments and added fuel. Quick pit work got Busch off pit road in seventh place to start the final stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 211-334):
● Busch started seventh and finished eighth.
● Green-flag racing resumed, and Busch lost a handful of positions during the opening laps of the final stage, dropping back to 10th place.
● Caution was displayed on lap 274 for a single-car incident. Busch was scored in 10th place. He reported that he needed the car to turn better and needed more speed.
● The team made some air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel. Busch lined up 10th for the restart.
● The Las Vegas native was scored in 10th place when a caution was displayed on lap 298. The first eight cars on the track stayed out, while Busch and a handful of others elected to pit. After a round of air pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel, Busch lined up 10th for the restart on lap 304.
● Caution came out quickly for a multicar accident that unfolded behind the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. It forced NASCAR to display the red flag for cleanup.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 309 with Busch in 10th place.
● A series of three more cautions went on to slow the race. Busch was able to avoid all of the issues and finish the race in eighth place.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We were just off today. I don’t know how we missed it, why we missed it, or what but just taking off – there was just no grip whatsoever. We would just chatter the front tires, so we missed it today. The one positive of the day is that we are above the cut line right now to get to Phoenix. Thanks to Interstate Batteries. I appreciate all of their people that were with us today. I just feel bad that we didn’t do a better job. We have to go back to work. Next week is Kansas – same kind of thing.”
Team Interstate Results:
● Christopher Bell finished third.
● Kyle Busch finished eighth.
● Denny Hamlin finished 11th.
● Martin Truex Jr. finished 25th.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 24, at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the eighth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 8. It starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.