LAS VEGAS – Kyle Busch recovers from an early race issue to win the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Since winning Friday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Strat 200, Busch will now go for the triple sweep at Vegas in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“It was really tough to come back from one of those setbacks,” Busch said after an eventful day in his No. 18 Extreme Concepts / iK9 Toyota. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to be able to do it down a set of tires. We got a lucky break with a caution during the second stage. That kind of got us back on cycle, and we were able to put the first set (of tires) back on with fresh wheels so we didn’t have any more issues there.”
John Hunter Nemechek tried everything he could with the late race position he had, but came up just 0.192 seconds short of victory.
“We gave him a run for his money,” Nemechek said. “I’ve been beaten by Kyle (Busch) too many times, in late model races and now in the Xfinity Series. Hopefully, we can come out on top and build momentum off of this.”
Noah Gragson was the highest finishing rookie in his No. 9 Switch Chevrolet after an aggressive three-wide pass on the final lap to finish in third. Austin Dillon helped Kaulig Racing earn their best career finish of fourth in the No. 10 Stitched Chevrolet. Daytona 500 champion Michael Annett rounded out the top five.
Ryan Sieg, Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Cole Custer and Justin Haley (one lap down) completed the top 10.
Custer Sets the Pace in Stage One
Qualifying was rained out, so the field was set by the order of owners’ points. Stephen Leicht and Christopher Bell started at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments to their cars prior to the start of the race. Cole Custer started on the front row and led the opening eight laps. Austin Cindric, for a brief moment was out front on Lap 9, but Custer reclaimed the top spot for the rest of the first stage.
On Lap 3, Donald Theetge spun through Turn 3 and slowly drifted up the track, collecting Joey Gase. A few drivers did elect to come down pit road, but all the leaders stayed out.
After 15 laps into the race, Kyle Busch, who was working on his triple sweep at Vegas, came down pit road after feeling a vibration. He went a lap down early, and faced an uphill battle early in the race as a few others were already a lap down. This also put him at a disadvantage as he was down a fresh set of tires. Tyler Reddick radioed in saying that something might be breaking, and had trouble getting onto pit road as he was stuck in the outside lane. However, he stayed out on track to keep the lead lap position.
The rest of the stage finished under green with Custer collecting the stage points. At this point, four cars retired from the race and one had not yet joined the race. During pit stops, Custer lost three spots while Tyler Reddick gained the lead leaving pit road. Three penalties were handed out during this pit cycle. Jeff Green’s crew members were over the wall too soon, and both Timmy Hill and Josh Williams had uncontrolled tire issues.
Stage Two Dominated by Dirt Racers
As the field restarted the race, Tyler Reddick wasted no time and pulled away from the field to lead all the laps in the second stage. Christopher Bell had also worked his way up toward the front after starting at the rear of the field to finish in second at stage end, as the two dirt racers put on a great show racing together.
The one notable event that was a major turning point was on Lap 60 when the yellow was displayed after Austin Cindric and Zane Smith collided on the exit of Turn 2. Cindric went for a long slide, and barely made contact with the outside wall, if any. Both were able to continue the race, but this allowed Kyle Busch to put on the scuff set of tires from the first stage, putting him on the same tire strategy as the rest of the field. He was still a lap
Two drivers received penalties during pit stops. Ryan Sieg was caught speeding on pit road, and Vinnie Miller had a crew member over the wall too soon.
Kyle Busch Surges Back to the Front in the Final Stage
Most of the third stage was uneventful, aside from Busch charging through the field toward the front. He first claimed the lead from Tyler Reddick on Lap 112, and kept the top spot until 20 laps remaining.
Bell and Reddick worked together to reel in Busch, and Bell eventually was able to get by Busch. He led for a lap, but brushed the wall in Turns 3 and 4, giving the lead back to Busch. Bell and Reddick also collided a few times, allowing Busch to pull a gap. On Lap 190, Ja Junior Avila spun off Turn 4 into the infield grass to bring out the caution flag. All drivers had one set of fresh tires, and elected to come to pit road with only six drivers on the lead lap. Before the yellow flag, Busch, Jones and Reddick had over a 20 second lead on the fourth place driver. The top three positions stayed the same after pit stops, but Brandon Jones gained two spots to start in the fourth position.
On the restart, Bell and Reddick attempted to work together to get by Busch who didn’t have quite the perfectly handling car at this point in the race. Bell had briefly stepped out in front before, and Reddick was attempting to do the same.
Before the leaders could take the white flag, Cole Custer had a run on Brandon Jones out of Turn 2. Jones attempted to block, and the two made contact on the back stretch. Jones over-corrected and turned hard into the outside wall. His window net went down and he was able to walk away uninjured, and was evaluated and released from the infield care center shortly after.
The first overtime attempt had many unknowns, including who would push who and if there would be a four-wide pass going into the first turn. Many of the other drivers had better handling cars, as more started to charge for the win. Going into Turn 3, Reddick lost control of his car as he was to the inside of Busch. As he slid up the track, he collided into Bell and the two went spinning on the exit of Turn 4. Both Austin Cindric and Zane Smith crashed into the sides of both cars heavily, ending the day for all four drivers. The yellow flag was displayed before Busch could take the white flag.
Kyle Busch chose the outside lane on all the final restarts, including the one for the last overtime attempt. John Hunter Nemechek stayed to Busch’s inside until Turn 4 when Busch could clear his car. Noah Gragson made a 3-wide pass in Turns 1 and 2 to recover from an early ill-handling race car, but Busch had too much of a lead for anyone to get a run on him. This was Busch’s second career NASCAR Xfinity win at Vegas, and made him one win away from completing the triple sweep.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series competes next at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona on March 9.
Race Results for the 23rd Annual Boyd Gaming 300 – Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
|1||8||18||Kyle Busch(i)||Extreme Concepts/iK9 Toyota||213||0||3||0||Running|
|2||10||23||John Hunter Nemechek||Allegiant Chevrolet||213||5||5||47||Running|
|3||4||9||Noah Gragson #||Switch Chevrolet||213||10||0||35||Running|
|4||31||10||Austin Dillon(i)||Stitched Chevrolet||213||0||0||0||Running|
|5||16||1||Michael Annett||Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet||213||6||8||40||Running|
|6||18||39||Ryan Sieg||Lombard Bros Gaming Chevrolet||213||0||9||33||Running|
|7||15||4||Ross Chastain||RM Parks/EZ Angus Ranch Chevrolet||213||0||0||30||Running|
|8||28||98||Chase Briscoe #||Nutri Chomps Ford||213||0||10||30||Running|
|9||1||0||Cole Custer||Haas Automation Ford||213||1||4||45||Running|
|10||13||11||Justin Haley #||LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet||212||9||0||29||Running|
|11||20||7||Ray Black II||ISOKERNFrplcs&Chmnys/ScubaLife Chev||211||0||0||26||Running|
|12||35||8||Gray Gaulding||Flywheel Chevrolet||211||0||0||25||Running|
|13||3||20||Christopher Bell||Rheem/Smurfit Kappa Toyota||210||4||2||40||Running|
|14||12||2||Tyler Reddick||Hurdl Chevrolet||208||3||1||41||Accident|
|15||17||51||Jeremy Clements||RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet||208||0||0||22||Running|
|16||19||36||Josh Williams||All Sports Coffee/JoeFroyo Chevrolet||208||0||0||21||Running|
|17||11||86||Brandon Brown #||Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet||208||0||0||20||Running|
|18||22||0||Garrett Smithley||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||208||0||0||19||Running|
|20||29||15||BJ McLeod||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||208||0||0||17||Running|
|21||2||42||Chad Finchum||Amana/Smithbilt Homes Toyota||207||0||0||16||Running|
|22||5||22||Austin Cindric||MoneyLion Ford||206||8||0||18||Accident|
|23||34||66||Timmy Hill||Francovich Manhattan Toyota||206||0||0||14||Running|
|24||6||8||Zane Smith||The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chevrolet||205||0||0||13||Accident|
|25||24||99||Ja Junior Avila||Art General Contractors/JW Transport Toyota||205||0||0||12||Running|
|26||14||78||Vinnie Miller||Koolbox Chevrolet||202||0||0||11||Running|
|27||30||1||Stephen Leicht||teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet||200||0||0||10||Running|
|28||9||19||Brandon Jones||Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota||198||2||7||22||Accident|
|29||25||5||Matt Mills||JF Electric Chevrolet||196||0||0||8||Running|
|30||37||74||Mike Harmon||Time for a Hero Chevrolet||194||0||0||7||Running|
|31||7||7||Justin Allgaier||BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet||119||7||6||15||Engine|
|32||26||38||Jeff Green||RSS Racing Chevrolet||99||0||0||5||Suspension|
|33||38||89||Morgan Shepherd||VisoneRV.com Chevrolet||61||0||0||4||Handling|
|35||36||13||Stan Mullis||Fluidyne/CrashClaimsR.US Toyota||14||0||0||2||Vibration|
|36||32||93||Josh Bilicki||RSS Racing Chevrolet||13||0||0||1||Electrical|
|37||23||90||Donald Theetge||Mercedes-Benz St-Nicolas/Circuit Acura Chev||1||0||0||1||Accident|
|38||33||35||Joey Gase||Nevada Donor Network Toyota||1||0||0||1||Accident|