The NASCAR Xfinity series blew into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway today for the third race of the season, 20+mph winds came with them making it a challenging day for drivers, teams and fans.
Early on in the Xfinity race it was all Kyle Busch in the NOS Energy #18 Toyota. Before the first green flag pit stops only 13 cars remained on the lead lap. Teammate Eric Jones tried to keep up but early on Kurt just continued to pull away.
Drivers like Ty Dillon, Brad Keselowski and others typically strong runners on the Xfinity series found themselves a lap or more down early in the day.
The first round of pit stops was a disaster for 2016 Xfinity Series rookie #20 Erik Jones who was running near the front. Not only did Erik get a speeding on pit road penalty he also sped on his penalty lap and had to come in once more. The second time Erik had to stop in his pit and ended up 2 laps down. A problem with his tachometer he method which drivers judge pit road speed was speculated as the issue.
The second of only 3 cautions on the day came after a long green flag run due to tire loose on pit road just past lap 73. This allowed teams to pit and also to get the wave around. 17 cars took the wave around, several more than 1 lap down and put the total number of lead lap cars back up to 16.
But as the story has been all day Kyle Busch was just dominating the race. It is almost unbelievable to believe that Kyle has never won a Xfinity race in his previous 11 tries. Kyle’s teammate #20 Erik Jones appeared out of the race when he went down 2 laps down due to 2 pit road infractions. Another driver who had a disaster of the day was Brad Keselowski. Brad had 2 unscheduled pit stops for a vibration and fell 3 laps off the pace. Brad finished 15th3 laps off the pace
The third caution on lap 138 turned into a red when the #25 of rookie Codie Ware spun into the wall in turn 2 and when he came off the wall was collected with a hard hit by # 6 of Bubba Wallace who was then hit by the #42 of Justin Marks. The red took a while as the track crew had to clean up a ton of fluid and debris on the track.
Again with that caution more cars took the wave around including Erik Jones, who is now had worked his way back on the lead lap again. After the caution Daniel Suarez was not letting Kyle Busch get away as he had earlier in the race hung with Kyle on the restart. Erik Jones was working his way back after making up 2 laps settled into 3rd with Gibbs cars running 1,2 and 3 just like they had at the beginning of the race.
As hard as Daniel Suarez tried to catch teammate Kyle Busch it was in vain, the #19 ARRIS Toyota gave it everything he had but to no avail. The last 7 laps young driver from Mexico charged as hard as he could but just ran out of time. Erik Jones wore out his tires so he never got a chance to challenge for the lead. Kyle paid both young driver a compliment when in his post-race comments said both of them will be up on the podium in the near future as race winners.
After going without an Xfinity win at his home track Kyle Busch led 199 out of 200 laps dominating for his first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his 78th Xfinity Series win. #6 Bubba Wallace was the only other driver leading a lap which he did so during green flag pit stops on lap 55. When asked if he was upset he did not lead all 200 laps he said that he had led the most important lap, the last one.
Joe Gibbs racing had a great day with its stables of Toyotas finishing 1,2,3. The top 5 in the race were #18 Kyle Bush in the M & M’s Toyota first, #19 Daniel Suarez in his ARRIS Toyota second, #20 Erik Jones in the Interstate Batteries Toyota third, #88 Chase Elliot in the Tayslayer.com Chevrolet fourth and #2 Austin Dillon in the RTP/Rheem Chevrolet fifth.
Notes: Today’s race had 3 cautions, one that became a 19-minute red flag, 31 out of 40 cars running at the end with #74 Mike Harmon the final car running 18 laps down. Erik Jones was the top finishing rookie. #19 Daniel Suarez assumes the point lead by 3 points over Elliot Sadler.
Up next for the Xfinity Series on the west coast swing is Phoenix with the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 Saturday 12th 2016.