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Kyle Busch succumbs to wall in bid to win on home track

Kyle Busch’s bid to win his second straight race came up short after an eventful day at his home track.

After winning last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the Las Vegan finished 14th in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after starting fifth.

Busch hit the wall off Turn 2 on Lap 32 but recovered to finish ninth in Stage 1. He hit the wall again late in Stage 2 and fell to 13th.

On a pit stop during the Stage 2 caution break, Busch lost several spots as he struggled to get around Tyler Reddick, who was in the pit stall ahead of him.

Busch found himself in the top 10 after the final cycle of green flag pit stops, but slowly fell back to 11th with 10 laps to go. After pitting for two tires following a caution with four laps to go, Busch restarted in 14th with two laps to go but couldn’t make up any ground.

Busch won Friday’s Truck Series race and finished fourth in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

Noah Gragson, the other Las Vegas driver in the field, finished two laps down in 30th. He started 25th and could never recover after three pit road speeding penalties.

During his first pit stop on lap 37, Gragson sped down pit road. He sped again while serving his penalty and had to serve another pass-through penalty.

Gragson committed another speeding penalty on a cycle of green flag pit stops late in the final stage.

While Busch and Gragson struggled, their Chevrolet teammates continued the manufacturer’s early season success. Three drivers from three Chevrolet teams have won the first three races — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured the Daytona 500, Busch prevailed last week and William Byron won Sunday.

Five Chevrolet drivers finished in the top 10 — led by three Hendrick Motorsports racers who finished 1-2-3 and combined to lead 241 of 271 laps.

“It’s good to see when you’re on this side of it,” said Alex Bowman, who finished third. “Just proud of all the offseason work from everyone at Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports.”

Other drivers have taken notice of the manufacturer’s early success.

“(Chevrolet) dominated the whole race,” said Bubba Wallace, who finished fourth in a Toyota. “We need to have a good debrief to figure out what we need to be better.”

The Cup Series races next week at Phoenix, a one-mile track. The first three races have been at tracks 1½ miles or longer.

Kyle Larson, who finished second, said he’s looking forward to seeing if the Chevrolet’s speed at larger tracks translates to the track that hosts the NASCAR Championship race.

“It’s promising, it’s fun when you have cars that fast,” Larson said. “But I am excited to get to a short track next week and see where we stack up there.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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