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Jun 18, 2013 - 07:10 AM
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2013 Michigan: Kyle Busch NASCAR Nationwide Race Recap
Posted by: newsla on Jun 18, 2013 - 07:07 AM
2013 Michigan: Kyle Busch NASCAR Nationwide Race Recap

Date: June 15, 2013
Event: Alliance Truck Parts 250, Race 13 of 33
Series: NASCAR Nationwide Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Two-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 14th/4th (Completed 125 of 125 laps)
Winner: Regan Smith of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)


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Bringing home a fourth-place finish, Camry driver Kyle Busch was the first Toyota to cross the stripe in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Michigan International Speedway. It was the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 Monster Energy team’s 10th top-five finish in 13 starts this year.

Busch started the day with a qualifying lap of 188.862mph that placed him 14th, in row seven, to begin the Alliance Truck Parts 250 event. The field was set to complete 125 laps around the two-mile paved oval, a track surface that was repaved last year and would prove difficult for some drivers to maneuver, including Busch who had not seen victory lane there in the NNS since 2004. In addition to the resurfaced track, threatening rain was also on the minds of teams, who kept an eye on the radar.

Upon taking the green flag, Busch quickly started to make progress towards the front of the pack, until two early caution-flag periods occurred. It was during this time Busch informed his team the car’s handling wasn’t as he wanted, describing that he couldn’t ‘feel the rear of the car well.’ They talked about air and track temperatures and how those differed from earlier on-track qualifying and practice sessions. Busch explained, “I feel like I’m making gains but don’t see it.”

The team pitted once under green-flag conditions on lap 40 to provide fuel, tires and chassis adjustments to the No. 54, then again on lap 65 and 82, both under caution periods, for on-track incidents. Further car adjustments were made during those stops, but Busch never felt completely comfortable and anxiously told his team, “Everything we are doing is making it looser. I can’t keep up with them!” The team worked their way as high as fourth place by lap 80, fell back to sixth, then climbed back into the fourth position where they landed for the day.

Crew chief Adam Stevens described today’s event, “It took a while to make some progress, but we did eventually get the car better for Kyle. We just weren't going to make it any better on pit road. I really felt like if we could have had a good restart on the last restart that we were in the catbird seat, but the last two restarts just didn't go our way. I felt like we had the car balances good and we were going to get it, but we were just missing something with overall speed -- kind of missing it in qualifying and missed it today in the race too. All in all, we finished and we don't have a scratch on it so we'll take it."

The No. 54 Monster Energy team owned by J.D. Gibbs maintains first place in the Owner’s Point standings, now leading the
No. 7 of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller by 29 points.

Regan Smith won the event, followed by Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Busch and Trevor Bayne. Busch's fellow Camry drivers and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers finished eighth and 33rd, respectively. There were five caution periods for 23 laps of the race along with five lead changes across five drivers.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series competes again on June 22 in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., with television broadcast starting at 5p.m. EST. Road course racer Owen Kelly of Australia will make his first of two starts behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry, the second being at the inaugural Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course NNS event on Aug. 17.

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