Kyle Busch Scores Top-Five Finish at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif.

Date: June 6, 2021

Event: Toyota / Save Mart 350 (Round 16 or 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Sonoma Raceway (2.52-mile road course)

Format: 90 Laps, 226.8 Miles (Stages: 20 laps / 20 laps / 50 laps)

Start / Finish: 5th / 5th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps) 

Point Standing: 7th


Race Winner: Kyle Larson

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 120)

  • Kyle Busch started fifth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway and finished third in stage one.
  • On lap 10, Crew Chief Ben Beshore called Busch to pit road for a scheduled green flag stop. With varying pit strategies throughout the field, Busch rejoined in 19th position.
  • The scheduled competition caution came out on lap 11 and the Sport Clips Camry stayed out, moving up to P4 for the restart.
  • Finishing third place in stage one, Busch told Beshore that he needed more rear grip. Beshore called him to pit road during the stage break for a quick four-tire stop and a round of adjustments. With varying pit strategies once again, Busch rejoined the field in 17th position.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 2140)

  • Busch started 17th in stage two and finished in seventh position.
  • Shortly after the field took the green flag, tight racing around the winding course led to slight damage to the right front of the Sport Clips Camry. Fortunately, the damage didn’t seem to cause any issue and Busch remained on track.
  • The caution flag waved with nine laps left in stage two. Beshore called Busch to pit road for new tires, fuel and a quick adjustment. Busch rejoined the field in 20th position with six laps remaining.
  • Busch moved the Sport Clips Camry up to seventh by the conclusion of stage two. He reported to Beshore that he needed more wedge next time he made a trip to pit road. Busch remained on track during the stage break. 


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 4190)

  • Busch started fourth in the final stage and finished Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 in fifth position.
  • On lap 54, Busch reported that he felt a slight vibration in the Sport Clips Camry. Taking no risk, Beshore called him to pit road for four new Goodyear tires. Busch’s intuition was correct. The right front tire was quickly coming apart.
  • With 24 laps to go, Busch took the lead until just before the caution flag waved on lap 71. With only one set of fresh tires remaining, Beshore called for one final pit stop and Busch rejoined the field in ninth position due to different pit strategies.
  • With 14 laps to go, super tight racing around turn 11 caused chaos among the field and impacted the left front of the Sport Clips Camry. Although the fender was split, Beshore reported that it wasn’t actually rubbing the wheel and made the call to stay out rather than come to pit road for damage repair. Busch agreed to take their chances, despite smelling smoke around certain turns.
  • Racing resumed with 12 laps to go and Busch was in seventh place. With just five laps to go, however, the caution flag waved once again. With no set of fresh tires in the pit stall, Beshore told Busch to stay out.
  • In a green-white-checkered finish, Busch managed to claim a fifth-place finish despite the late chaos.



Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota Camry

Why did you not want to see the late caution, didn’t you need fuel?

“I don’t think we needed fuel. I never heard anything about needing fuel. I just thought that our car was a little bit better long run car than the 22 (Joey Logano) was and the 22 had older tires so I didn’t want to see a yellow kind of be an equalizer and get everybody back even.”


Where do you think Joe Gibbs Racing is currently considering how dominant Hendrick Motorsports has been in recent weeks?

“We’re number two, right. I feel like that’s where we’re at. Those guys, we know they’ve got a good road course program, we saw the 9 (Chase Elliott) finish second again today. If the 5 (Kyle Larson) wasn’t even here, he would have won. The 5 got just super fast. I don’t know where he’s at, but different zip code from all of us. The 5 was on his own level and the 9 and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) seem to be equal, we were a little off the 19, I don’t know why. We were just overall too loose all day.”


Do you feel like you’re going to fight this same issue at the future road courses?

“So far we’ve fought different issues at every road course so I can’t answer that question. I don’t know if the Hendrick cars run the same setup every week, but we keep making little tweaks and we keep chasing different demons. We’re right there, we’ve got good, fast cars. Toyota, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), everybody is doing a really good job. We just definitely don’t have the overall pace to the 5 (Kyle Larson) for sure.”


Where do you think the communication is right now between yourself and Ben Beshore (crew chief)?

“I don’t think there’s anything missing in that department right now. We went to the sim this week and we tried a few different things here and there and we thought a couple things were a little bit better and we tried those here today and they didn’t correlate the same, sim to track. That was not good. But we were really, really similar to the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) and it seemed like we were pretty equal to them. That was just all we had. Overall, we were a top contender of a Gibbs car today so that’s all we can ask for.”


Did the low downforce make a difference today?

“It definitely did. The tire fall off was a lot greater so the pace would fall off more. I don’t know if the racing was really different. Carousel was definitely a handful – getting in there and just being loose or tight or washing out and trying to keep it out of the dirt.”


Next Up:

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Lone Star State next Sunday for the iconic All-Star Race under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Tune in on Sunday, June 13 at 6:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.