Watkins Glen, NY (August 11, 2013) - Kyle Busch was able to hold off the competition over several late restarts to earn an impressive victory in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 from Watkins Glen.
Meanwhile a late accident took away a certain top-ten from Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin battled all day to earn a 19th-place finish.
Kyle Busch, who nearly won the race a year ago before a late accident took him out of the lead, started his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota today in the fifth position and patiently remained in the top five through the day’s first two cautions. Busch would jump into the third position on a lap 19 restart and took over second just a couple laps later. Crew chief Dave Rogers would call for the first pit stop of the day while under green flag conditions on lap 30. Kyle would take over the second position behind Marcos Ambrose once the field had completed its pit cycle. Kyle would lose one spot on restart following a more than 20 minute red flag stoppage and was running third at the halfway point of the race. He would retake the second spot on lap 49. Busch brought the M&Ms Camry down pit road with 30 laps to go and just as he pulled into his stall a caution would come out for an accident involving the 43 car.
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That proved advantageous to the M&Ms team with many of the other leaders caught on the track. Those leaders would have to pit under the caution which cost them some essential track position, while Busch was able to restart in the lead on lap 64. He would manage to hold off a hard challenge from the 56 car to maintain the lead following the drop of the green flag.
Over the next 14 laps the M&Ms Camry would increase its lead over the 2 and 56 cars as they hoped for the green flag to remain out to the finish. But a caution with 12 to go would line the field back up for a restart on lap 80. He would get a great restart but a big accident would follow behind him bringing out yet another caution. They would try it again with six to go, but once again an accident brought out a quick caution. Finally the race went to the end and Busch did an amazing job to hold off a fast charging Brad Keselowski to earn the win. It was Busch’s third victory of the season.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in 20th and raced just outside the top twenty through the opening two green flag runs. Crew chief Darian Grubb brought the FedEx machine down pit road following a lap 16 caution for adjustments and after restarting outside the top 30, Hamlin began to climb his way back toward the top 20. Hamlin would pit again to get back on a pit sequence closer to the leaders which left him to restart 31st on lap 37. He would run 26th when a lap 39 caution came out and ultimately forced a red flag stoppage for oil on the track. Once the race restarted Hamlin was able to continue his climb and was 22nd at the halfway point. Hamlin was back inside the top 20 and on his way to pit road with 30 to go when a caution came out just before he crossed the commitment line to drive to his pit box. He was able to deftly make the move back out on the track avoiding any penalties, but he would have to pit under caution the next time around. Hamlin would restart 22nd with 26 laps to go. He was running in 20th when a caution came out with 12 to go and the FedEx team took the opportunity for a final pit stop and lined up 19th with 10 to go. Hamlin was able to avoid a big accident on the restart and lined up 20th for another restart with six to go. Another accident would quickly follow bringing out yet another caution. He would line up 17th for the restart with two to go and this time the race would make it to the finish with Hamlin in 19th.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota from the 10th position and battled just outside the top 10 through the opening 20 laps while battling a mostly loose handling race car. The team would pit from the 12th position for the first time while under green flag conditions on lap 28. Once the field had mostly cycled through, Kenseth would find himself back inside the top 10 in ninth for a restart on lap 37. He continued to run ninth at the midway point following a more than 20 minute red flag stoppage of the race. He would pit on lap 58 for four tires, fuel and adjustments. A caution would come out just a lap later costing several of the other leaders track position and Kenseth would restart eighth with 26 laps to go. He would run in the 10th position when a caution came out with 12 laps to go. The field would line back up for a restart with 10 to go and a big accident would follow that involved Kenseth. The Home Depot Husky Camry would suffer damage along the right front of the car and he would bring it down pit road a couple of times for repairs. He would line up 30th for the restart with six to go. Another accident would quickly follow bringing out yet another caution. The No. 20 Camry would line up 23rd for the restart with two to go and he would go on to finish the day in 23rd.
Kyle Busch won the race, followed by Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., Carl Edwards, and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 21 laps and five lead changes among five different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to Michigan International Speedway next Sunday, August 18 with ESPN delivering live broadcast coverage starting with its pre-race show at Noon ET.