Busch brothers settle for tough results at home track

1 Comment

After losing the lead late in yesterday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it was clear that Vegas native Kyle Busch was not a happy camper.

The outcome of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 for the Sprint Cup Series probably won’t make him feel any better. The “Rowdy” One charged back from a slow first stop to be a threat throughout the race’s middle stages but then faded late to an 11th place finish.

Kyle was to take two tires on his first stop after a Lap 18 caution but as he was about to make his way out of his pit box, Michael McDowell suddenly entered the box ahead of him and blocked him in.

That led the team to call an audible and have Kyle back up so they can go with four tires and make additional adjustments to the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The decision tossed Kyle all the way back to 41st for the subsequent restart, but he was already back in the Top 20 in less than 20 green-flag laps. He continued to race all the way into the Top 5 and on Lap 76, he dispatched Jimmie Johnson to take the lead.

Busch pitted under green from the lead on Lap 97 but got P1 back when the cycle played out. However, Kevin Harvick was able to take the point away just before the halfway park at Lap 134. Still, the No. 18 stayed around the Top 5 up to the final restart of the day with 42 laps to go.

Unfortunately for Kyle, he was unable to keep up with the leaders in the last dash to the finish.

“The car was too loose on the first run and we tightened it up and it was really fast for awhile,” he said. “But, we kept adjusting on it to try and help the tight in the center of the corner and it was just getting looser and looser, especially on the last run. Just disappointing when we looked like we had a good car earlier in the race.”

He later summed up the day on his Twitter page:

But at least Kyle was able to get 52 laps at the front of the field, while his older brother Kurt never saw the front at all. He was never able to break out of mid-pack and went a lap down to the leaders shortly before the halfway mark.

He would eventually lose three laps by the time he took the checkered flag in 26th position, continuing what has been a tough start results-wise for him with his new team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

Altogether, it was a bad day for SHR, which was led by Danica Patrick in 21st. Harvick’s bid for back-to-back wins was dashed by a wheel hub failure, while co-owner/driver Tony Stewart finished 33rd at four laps down.

Carlos Munoz back at Andretti Autosport for 2018 Indy 500

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After posting two runner-up finishes and three top-five results in four starts with Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis 500, Colombian Carlos Munoz will come home to the team as its sixth driver in the 2018 race. He’ll instantly vault into win contention, given his pedigree at the Speedway and joining Andretti’s team that has won three of the last four ‘500s there.

Munoz raced full-time with Andretti Autosport from 2014 through 2016. While he scored his first career win at Detroit race one in 2015, and was series rookie of the year in 2014, it’s his runner-up results as a race rookie in 2013 and again in the 2016 race to teammate Alexander Rossi that loom largest.

Now, Munoz, who spent a single season at A.J. Foyt Enterprises before both he and Conor Daly were not retained for a second year, will join Andretti’s full-season quartet of Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Zach Veach along with previously announced fifth driver Stefan Wilson.

This will add another confirmed Honda entry to next year’s race. Honda has 12 full-season entries expected among Andretti’s four cars, then two apiece from the Ganassi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Schmidt Peterson and Coyne teams.

That number grows with Andretti’s two extra cars, and the combination of the SPM/Michael Shank car for Jack Harvey to confirm at least 15 Hondas for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Honda has traditionally capped its number of entries at 18 cars.

The full release is below.

A familiar face will make its way back to the Andretti Autosport stable for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race as Carlos Muñoz returns to the team, vying for his chance to kiss the bricks.

Muñoz made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut with Andretti Autosport at the 2013 Indianapolis 500, where he finished second, earning himself Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors. The Colombian-native went on to compete full time with the team the following year. In 2016, Muñoz once again finished runner-up when his rookie teammate, Alexander Rossi, crossed the Yard of Bricks on a fuel-saving strategy to win the 100th Indy 500.

“I am very excited to be a part of Andretti Autosport again,” said Muñoz. “The team has been like family to me since day one, when I joined them five years ago to race Indy Lights. We have been so close to winning the Indy 500 – twice with the team – so I am especially excited to be back for that race and hopefully we will have a good result this year. I need to thank Michael [Andretti] and J-F [Thormann] for believing in me and wanting me to back in their car for the Indy 500. I am also excited to be back with my teammates, and I think we will continue to work really well together. We have six cars, so hopefully we will have a strong team working with the new [aero kit]. I am really looking forward to it – hopefully we can finally get that win we’ve been so close to.”

Muñoz will look to pick up where he left off with Andretti Autosport and add to the team’s historical success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team mirror’s Muñoz’s enthusiasm and is excited to have secured its complete lineup before the new year.

“We’re thrilled to have Carlos back in an Andretti car for the Indy 500,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “There is no denying that Carlos has talent at [Indianapolis Motor Speedway], he’s finished runner-up twice and that has fueled his determination to get to victory lane. He has already built relationships with his teammates and many of those on our crew, so it should be a seamless process for our six cars when they head out for the first time together.”

The veteran driver has built a resume that consists of 70 Verizon IndyCar Series starts, one win (Detroit Race 1, 2015), one pole position (Texas, 2016) and seven podiums. Muñoz competed under the Andretti shield from 2013 to 2016 and finished 17th in the 2017 IndyCar season.

Andretti Autosport has collected five Indianapolis 500 victories (Wheldon/’05, Franchitti/’06, Hunter-Reay/’14, Rossi/’16, Sato/’17) and seeks to become only the second team to earn three consecutive Indy 500 wins. Muñoz will join teammates Rossi, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach and Stefan Wilson on opening day in May for the team’s six-car effort.