Photo: Stewart Haas Racing
Date: Oct. 7, 2018
Event: Gander Outdoors 400 (Round 30 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile concrete oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (120 laps/120 laps/160 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th/5th (Running, completed 404 of 404 laps)
Point Standing: 6th (3,054 points, 21 points ahead of the top-eight cutoff)
Note: Race extended four laps past its scheduled 400-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-120):
● Kurt Busch started seventh and finished eighth to earn three bonus points.
● The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion was tight early in the race.
● On lap 72, Busch pitted for four tires and fuel, emerging in eighth position.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 121-240):
● Busch started eighth and finished sixth to earn five bonus points.
● The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion was still tight center and loose on exit.
● Pitted on lap 122 for four tires and fuel.
● Busch was in fifth when he pitted on lap 191 for four tires and fuel.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 241-404):
● Busch started eighth, finished fifth.
● The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion was still tight center out.
● On lap 242, Busch pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Busch was in fourth and pitted for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment on lap 321.
● While fourth, he pitted on lap 341 for four tires and fuel and a trackbar adjustment.
● On lap 352, Busch passed Brad Keselowski for second place and was trailing his teammate, Aric Almirola, by just 1.2 seconds.
● After a late-race caution, Busch pitted for two tires on lap 394 and restarted in seventh.
● He avoided a multicar wreck and, after a red flag, restarted fifth, which is where he finished.
● This was Busch’s sixth top-five and 19th top-10 finish of 2018.
● Busch earned his ninth top-five and 11th top-10 in 37 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Dover.
● Busch finished eighth in Stage 1 to earn three bonus points and sixth in Stage 2 to earn an additional five bonus points.
● All four SHR drivers finished in the top-10 in Stage 1 and again in Stage 2.
● Chase Elliott won the Gander Outdoors 400 to score his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Dover. His margin of victory over second-place Denny Hamlin was .265 of a second.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 31 laps.
● Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Gander Outdoors 400 finished on the lead lap.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“It was a really good day for us with the stages. We were just a little bit tight most of the day and felt like it came to us toward the end. I was giving it all I had chasing down Almirola, then the yellow comes out, and from there it just changed the course of everything. It’s not even a ripple effect, it’s a tidal wave of things that happen. Once one yellow comes out, that goes against what everybody thought was going to happen, so Almirola could have won, we could have finished second. We ended up fifth. We have nothing to complain about. Big thanks to Monster Energy, Haas Automation and Ford. Solid day.”
Playoff Standing (with two races to go before the Round of 8):
1. Kevin Harvick (3,101 points) +68 points
2. Kyle Busch (3,096 points) +63 points
3. Martin Truex Jr. (3,069 points) +36 points
4. Joey Logano (3,064 points) +31 points
5. Chase Elliott (3,056 points) 1 win
6. Kurt Busch (3,054 points) +21 points
7. Brad Keselowski (3,054 points) +21 points
8. Ryan Blaney (3,043 points) +10 points
9. Aric Almirola (3,033 points) -10 points
10. Clint Bowyer (3,033 points) -10 points
11. Kyle Larson (3,031 points) -12 points
12. Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -34 points
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the 1000Bulbs.com 500 on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It is the fifth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage on NBC. Pre-race coverage on NBCSN begins at noon with NASCAR America followed by Countdown to Green at 1 p.m.