Not even an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel, falling a lap down and an evil-handling car could deter Kyle Busch from making more merry rounds during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“The car was evil again today,” said the native Las Vegan after using the outside lane to hold off late-race and overtime challenges to record his 93rd Xfinity victory and second on his hometown track. “Just can’t find a balance with these Xfinity cars. I cannot figure it out right now.”
It would have been hard to tell the way he charged back to the front to lead a race-high 98 of 213 laps on a day that went from wet to sunny to overcast to breezy. Saturday’s qualifying session was canceled after an early morning shower, with the field being aligned by owner’s points.
Busch, who started eighth, momentarily gave up the lead to Christopher Bell with 19 laps to go but took it right back when Bell collided with Tyler Reddick. John Hunter Nemechek, driving a Chevy owned by Allegiant Air CEO Maury Gallagher of Las Vegas, finished .192 of a second behind after briefly putting a nose in front of Busch after a second overtime restart.
Having also won Friday night’s Truck Series race, Busch will be shooting for a LVMS sweep in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400. He is the only driver to have won Truck, Xfinity and Cup races on the same weekend, having accomplished the feat at Bristol, Tennessee, in 2010 and 2017.
“I feel that Vegas is one of the more challenging ones,” Busch said about the best tracks at which to win the trifecta. “I’m not great here on the Cup side.
“We’ve had some decent runs, a few strong runs … but with this new (high downforce) package and what we saw in practice today, and what we think the race is going to be like, it’s going to be a whole, new, different ballgame.”
Rookie driver Noah Gragson of Las Vegas continued to straighten his Xfinity Series learning curve, persevering for a third-place finish in his third race driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Just never givin’ up throughout the whole race, and my crew put me in a good position for the final two restarts,” said the 20-year-old, who brushed the wall twice early in the race and went from fifth to third on the second overtime restart. “Just takin’ notes in my brain trying to learn.”
Practice was perfect
If Saturday’s final Cup Series practice was any indication, race fans are in for an exciting show in the Pennzoil 400.
The session featured three-wide racing and lots of dicing and maneuvering for position as the drivers continued to experiment with NASCAR’s new high downforce rules package.
“Three-wide in practice? Oh, my!” raved four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon in the Fox broadcast booth.
The record for lead changes in a Las Vegas Cup Series race is 28. Darrell Waltrip, Gordon’s sidekick, said he was going to boogity, boogity, boogity to the nearest casino to bet the over.