Kyle Busch recovers to capture second victory of Vegas weekend in Xfinity Series

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.”

American Muscle

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.

Tyler Reddick leads Brandon Jones and John Hunter Nemechek on the front stretch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Photo by Rachel Schuoler for Speedway Media.

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 down, but it put him in much better position for either a lucky dog or a wave around.

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.

Most of the leaders crashed during the first overtime attempt on the exit of Turn 4. Photo by Rachel Schuoler for Speedway Media.

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

1818Kyle Busch(i)Extreme Concepts/iK9 Toyota213030Running
21023John Hunter NemechekAllegiant Chevrolet2135547Running
349Noah Gragson #Switch Chevrolet21310035Running
43110Austin Dillon(i)Stitched Chevrolet213000Running
5161Michael AnnettPilot/Flying J Chevrolet2136840Running
61839Ryan SiegLombard Bros Gaming Chevrolet2130933Running
7154Ross ChastainRM Parks/EZ Angus Ranch Chevrolet2130030Running
82898Chase Briscoe #Nutri Chomps Ford21301030Running
910Cole CusterHaas Automation Ford2131445Running
101311Justin Haley #LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet2129029Running
11207Ray Black IIISOKERNFrplcs&Chmnys/ScubaLife Chev2110026Running
12358Gray GauldingFlywheel Chevrolet2110025Running
13320Christopher BellRheem/Smurfit Kappa Toyota2104240Running
14122Tyler ReddickHurdl Chevrolet2083141Accident
151751Jeremy Chevrolet2080022Running
161936Josh WilliamsAll Sports Coffee/JoeFroyo Chevrolet2080021Running
171186Brandon Brown #Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet2080020Running
18220Garrett Chevrolet2080019Running
192752David StarrChevrolet2080018Running
202915BJ Chevrolet2080017Running
21242Chad FinchumAmana/Smithbilt Homes Toyota2070016Running
22522Austin CindricMoneyLion Ford2068018Accident
233466Timmy HillFrancovich Manhattan Toyota2060014Running
2468Zane SmithThe Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chevrolet2050013Accident
252499Ja Junior AvilaArt General Contractors/JW Transport Toyota2050012Running
261478Vinnie MillerKoolbox Chevrolet2020011Running
27301Stephen Chevrolet2000010Running
28919Brandon JonesMenards/Jeld-Wen Toyota1982722Accident
29255Matt MillsJF Electric Chevrolet196008Running
303774Mike HarmonTime for a Hero Chevrolet194007Running
3177Justin AllgaierBRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet1197615Engine
322638Jeff GreenRSS Racing Chevrolet99005Suspension
333889Morgan Chevrolet61004Handling
342117Bayley Currey(i)Chevrolet24000Electrical
353613Stan MullisFluidyne/CrashClaimsR.US Toyota14002Vibration
363293Josh BilickiRSS Racing Chevrolet13001Electrical
372390Donald TheetgeMercedes-Benz St-Nicolas/Circuit Acura Chev1001Accident
383335Joey GaseNevada Donor Network Toyota1001Accident

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