Las Vegas — Kurt Busch has said winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be the equivalent of winning the Daytona 500. Thanks to a timely late-race caution, a little boy’s dream came true.
“This is what kids dream of,” said an emotional Busch in Victory Lane. “Winning in your hometown. For two decades this place has kicked my butt. I really miss the fans. I miss them so much. My hometown is really special. This really means a lot. Thanks to Brendan Gaughan, the South Point, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, all my family and friends that have meant so much.”
Things fell in the Durango High School graduate’s lap with 30 laps to go when Jimmie Johnson shredded a tire causing a caution while many of the top competitors had made green-flag stops. The caution trapped Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott among others a lap down forcing them to take the wave-around.
Restarts in traffic made life tough on those who had pitted as Busch and Matt DiBenedetto started to pull away from the field.
“An untimely caution kept us out of Victory Lane,” said Hamlin, who won Stage 2 and had the dominant car most of the night. “That was the best car I’ve ever had at Vegas. It was really, really good. I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but really encouraged by how we ran.
Busch had to hold off DiBenedetto on two late-race restarts to clinch the win. It was DiBenedetto’s second straight second-place finish at LVMS.
“We had a little different gear than Kurt on those restarts,” DiBenedetto said. “I really wanted to get a win for these guys, and we were so close.”
Hamlin, Truex and Bowman fought their way through traffic at the end to round out the top five positions.
Briscoe completes sweep of LVMS Xfinity Races
Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff opener was called the Alsco 300, but had it been called the Chase Briscoe 300, no one would have protested.
Briscoe was totally dominant winning all three stages in route to posting his second straight Xfinity win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I will definitely sleep easier tonight knowing Talladega and the (Charlotte) Roval are next,” said Briscoe, who picked up his series-best eighth win of the season.
The only real stress Briscoe faced all night came in the race’s final laps when Alex Labbe’s car stalled at the entrance to pit road forcing a caution. On the ensuing restart, Briscoe had to fight off a tough challenge from Las Vegas’s Noah Gragson, but pulled away for the win.
“On that restart, I knew if we could get the lead, then we could make hay,” Briscoe said. “But I spun the tires for whatever reason and took a while to get away.”
For Gragson, it was his best finish ever at his hometown track and he did it while battling a bloody nose that he plugged up with roll bar padding during the race.
“It was a good day for our team,” said Gragson, who received a major points boost with the strong finish. “It’s the best I’ve ever been here. We just didn’t have enough for (Briscoe). There are a lot of race cars our here but only one Space Shuttle. I wanted this one so bad in my hometown. I guess we’ll have to get them next week at Talladega.”
Daniel Hemric, driving the South Point-sponsored car came home in third, with Justin Allgaier and Ryan Sieg rounding out the top five. Riley Herbst, the other Las Vegas driver in the field, came home 12th.
Next up is Sunday’s South Point 400, the opening race of the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Last week’s winner Kevin Harvick and Las Vegan Kyle Busch will start on the front row.
Source: Las Vegas Motor Speedway