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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch scores first Monster Energy All-Star Race win

No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch during the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch during the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

When Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on Friday night, he set a new record for most Truck Series wins by a driver at a single track with seven truck wins at Charlotte, but on Saturday night, he won the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race, also at CMS, for the first time.
“It’s the All-Star Race for one, and for two, we’ve never won at Charlotte in a Cup car, so we finally achieved that goal tonight and won the All-Star Race and won a million bucks, so there’s reason to celebrate and to celebrate big,” Busch said. “I can’t say enough about this team, everybody on this M&Ms Camry, this M&Ms Caramel Camry this week. First race, first win for those guys.”
Busch was one of 10 drivers advancing to the 10-lap fourth and final stage of the 70-lap all star race. He restarted the race for the final stage in the third position while Brad Keselowski restarted in the lead after staying out on older tires. When the race returned to green for the final time, Keselowski dropped back through the field, and Busch took the lead.
Keselowski wound up ninth out of the 10 drivers in the final stage.
Kyle Larson finished second with a pass on Jimmie Johnson on the final lap. Johnson, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. The other drivers advancing to the final stage and finishing out the top-10 were Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.
The 10 drivers advancing to the final stage of the race were determined by wins in the first three 20-lap stages, followed by drivers with the highest average finishes across those three stages. Larson won the first two stages, with Johnson taking the third stage. Logano and Clint Bowyer had matching average finishes, but Logano got the last advancing spot into the fourth stage by finishing ahead of Bowyer in stage three.
Larson led all laps of the first two stages for a total of 40 laps, but pit strategies moved him back to third to restart for stage three.
“We had the best car out there, for sure,” Larson said. “In traffic, I thought it was really good. I thought we had it most of the race, but that’s how racing goes. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I think we had a really fast car today.”
Bowyer and Blaney took only two tires to get off pit road first and second and restart on the front row for stage three.
“It’s really the only strategy we’ve got,” Blaney said. “You can’t pass anywhere. It’s not great track conditions, to be honest with you. It’s just on the bottom. We had to try something to get our average up or try to win a stage, and that’s what we tried.”
When the race resturned to green, Bowyer dropped back through the field on mismatched tires — two standard tires and two of the softer, faster wearing tires — while Blaney momentarily held the lead. Johnson quickly grabbed the top spot, though, and ran up front throughout the rest of the stage. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Harvick and Kurt Busch battled for second behind Johnson, and Harvick took the spot to finish the third stage in the second position.
The optional softer, faster tire only seemed to be beneficial when used by drivers already near the front of the field. Three of the drivers advancing to the All-Star Race through the Open and, therefore, starting the All-Star Race in the back started the All-Star Race on the faster tires, but none of them were able to crack the top-10 in the first 20-lap stage. Daniel Suarez made the biggest move in stage one, ended the stage in 11th.
“We got a few rows on the start, and then, things got jumbled up and we went back to where we started,” Blaney said. “That was kind of the end of it.”
Johnson, though, used his set of softer tires in stage two. He started the second stage in the fourth spot, and on the faster tires, moved up to second quickly and ran behind Larson throughout the stage.
The 70-lap All-Star Race ran incident free, with the pace only slowing between stages.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facedbook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on May 21, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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