March 5, 2016
By Reid Spencer
LAS VEGAS – When Kyle Busch finally broke his home-court jinx at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he did it in style.
Leading 199 of 200 laps, Busch won Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series at the 1.5-mile track, pacing a 1-2-3 finish by Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. The Las Vegas native ended an 0-for-11 drought at his home track, beating teammate Daniel Suárez to the finish line by .817 seconds, with Erik Jones rolling across the stripe in third.
The victory was Busch’s second straight in as many starts this season and the 78th of his career, extending his own series record.
As dominant as the statistics may have appeared, however, Busch’s win was anything but easy. Suárez was closing fast over the final 20 laps, chopping a lead of nearly three seconds to less than one. And Jones’ No. 20 Toyota likely was the fastest car in the race, but back-to-back green-flag pit road speeding penalties squelched his chances for victory.
Busch was saving fuel over the final run, but that wasn’t his main concern.
“We were worried about fuel, but more so we were worried about Suárez,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “He was on me there at the end — he was really, really fast. I can’t say enough about all these guys. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing prepares some really fast Camrys and this NOS Energy Drink Camry was the best. It felt really, really good.
“Suárez was definitely faster than us when he got clean track. If roles were reversed, he would have been pulling away from me, and I wasn’t going to be able to catch him. All in all, just a great day for us in 1-2-3, and for me to get a victory here in my home town, check one off the list, that’s pretty awesome.”
Suárez, who took over the series lead, matched his career-best finish and posted his ninth straight top 10, dating to last season.
“I felt like it took me too long to figure out how to be fast in traffic,” said Suarez, who holds a three-point edge over Elliott Sadler in the series standings. “The team did an amazing job. The car was super fast — just a little short.”
Jones lost two laps when he was flagged for speeding on pit road and was busted again while serving the pass-through penalty for the first infraction, a pair of mistakes the driver attributed to a possible faulty calibration of the warning lights on his dashboard.
But Jones got both laps back – the first with a wave-around, the second as the highest-scored lapped car under the final caution – just in time to charge to third on the final green-flag run.
A chain-reaction wreck on Lap 136 ended strong runs by Darrell Wallace Jr. and Justin Marks. The crash started when Cody Ware spun his No. 25 Chevrolet, smacked the outside wall and stopped sideways on the track.
Unable to avoid Ware’s car, Wallace slid his No. 6 Ford into the left rear quarter of the No. 25 and drifted into the outside wall. Marks tried to avoid Ware’s Chevy to the high side but hit the wall and careened down the track into Wallace’s Ford.
“We were running our own race there,” said Wallace, who was running 12th when the collision occurred. “Kind of fell off late in the run and getting free, but we were making gains on our Ford Mustang all day and getting it better and better.
Wallace led the only lap Busch didn’t lead, taking the top spot on Lap 155 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. But that was small consolation for the way Wallace’s race ended.