There is a consensus among auto racing fans that racing on one’s home track provides a driver with a home track advantage.
The record book doesn’t back it up, at least not in the case of the Busch brothers of Las Vegas.
Kurt and Kyle Busch have combined for just one win in 29 Las Vegas Motor Speedway Cup Series starts. Kurt is 0-for 16. Kyle is 1-for-13. Both are former series champions who for whatever reason have struggled while running on home asphalt.
“It’s never translated to that home-field advantage,” older sibling Kurt, 39, said during a recent NASCAR test session at the 1.5-mile oval. “I’ve always struggled here in Las Vegas. I’ve qualified well over the years but haven’t raced well, and so I’m looking to turn that around.
“There’s no sense in having those fast laps at the beginning if you can’t back them up at the end.”
Kurt Busch has two pole position starts at LVMS but has finished among the top 5 only once and among the top 10 four times, belying a driver of his skill and reputation.
Kyle won the 2009 Cup Series race from the pole, one of two times he has posted the fastest qualifying speed.
Kyle Busch, 32, has run much better than his older brother at Las Vegas, with five top 5s and six top 10s. He has led 230 laps at LVMS while Kurt has paced 85.
Kyle’s average finishing position at Las Vegas is 14.2. Kurt’s is 21.8.
“It certainly is a racetrack that I try to enjoy and run well at but, more importantly, win at,” said Kyle Busch, who will be competing in all three NASCAR Weekend races in his hometown — Trucks, Xfinity and Cup. “I’ve only been able to do that once, in 2009. I’d certainly like to be able to get back to those winning ways there, of being able to have a fast race car and figure out what it takes to get around there well.”
On the undercard
Two other local drivers are expected to compete on Las Vegas 400 weekend.
Spencer Gallagher, who posted a solid sixth-place finish in the Xfinity season opener at Daytona, will drive in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 for a team founded by his father, Maury, CEO of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines.
Noah Gragson will pilot one of the Kyle Busch Motorsports entries in Friday’s Stratosphere 200 Truck Series race that kicks off the first NASCAR tripleheader weekend in LVMS history.
The budding 19-year-old star finished second at Atlanta last week, charging from ninth place to the runner-up position following a late restart.
Brendan Gaughan had hoped to put together an effort for his hometown Cup Series race, but it did not come together. Gaughan, who announced during 2017 Champion’s Week in Las Vegas that he was retiring from full-time competition in the Xfinity Series, ran in the lead draft during the closing laps of the season-opening Daytona 500 in a part-time ride for car owner Mark Beard before being collected in a crash.