STRONG RUN TURNS SOUR FOR BUSCH AT LAS VEGAS Z-Line Designs Driver Suffers Another Rough Nationwide Series Outing at Hometown Track While it's always been a dream for Las Vegas native Kyle Busch to race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his NASCAR ...
STRONG RUN TURNS SOUR FOR BUSCH AT LAS VEGAS
Z-Line Designs Driver Suffers Another Rough Nationwide Series Outing at Hometown Track
While it's always been a dream for Las Vegas native Kyle Busch to race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his NASCAR Nationwide Series record at the 1.5-mile oval located just miles from where he grew up has been anything but ideal.
The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Operation Helmet Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) led three times for a total of 43 laps in Saturday's Sam's Town 300 Nationwide Series event, but a late-race scrape with the turn two wall relegated him to a disappointing 16th-place finish.
"It just turned out to be a typical Nationwide Series race for me at Vegas," said Busch, who has just one top-five finish in seven career Nationwide Series starts at his hometown track. "Our Z-Line Designs Toyota was just too tight all day. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and the guys worked hard to loosen the car up, but we just never hit on it. Then I made a mistake by scraping the fence in (turn) two and just had to try to make it to the end without wrecking. We maybe had a third-place car if I hadn't messed up and got in the wall, but we'll try to look ahead at having a better run at Bristol."
With weather delaying the start of the race by nearly two hours and pockets of rain surrounding the track, Busch moved up from his sixth-place starting spot and settled into second behind leader Kevin Harvick for nearly the first half of the 200-lap race. A strong pit stop by the Z-Line Designs team on lap 83 vaulted Busch into the lead for the first time on lap 87.
Despite leading the next 31 laps, Busch remained hampered by a tight handling condition, something Ratcliff worked to fix with a series of track bar and air pressure adjustments. While the changes helped the Z-Line Designs Toyota stay with the top-three, Busch didn't quite have a good enough handling racecar to re-take the lead after losing the top spot on lap 119.
However, the real trouble came late in the race when Busch scraped the wall coming out of turn two on lap 181 as he chased the leaders. The damage was enough to cause Busch to quickly lose his third-place position and drop even further in the running order. All he could do was on hold on for the final 19 laps.
Harvick beat Busch's JGR teammate Denny Hamlin by 1.361 seconds to win the Sam's Town 300 and score the 35th Nationwide Series win of his career, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas.
Finishing third behind Hamlin was Carl Edwards, while Brad Keselowski and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Paul Menard, Greg Biffle and Steven Wallace comprised the rest of the top-10.
The race featured eight caution periods for 39 laps, with 14 drivers failing to finish the event.
While Busch is not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, the No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title, and it is sixth in points after round three of 35. JGR has won the past two Nationwide Series owner's championships.