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Kyle Busch scorched his way to a dominant victory Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR XFINITY Series' Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch, the Coors Light Pole Award winner, led all but one of the race's 200 laps in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota to post his second win of the season, padding his XFINITY Series record to 78 career wins. The victory was the Las Vegas native's first in the series at his home track.
Daniel Suarez finished second to take over the XFINITY Series points lead for the first time in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Rookie Erik Jones recovered from a pair of early pit-road penalties to take third in the No. 20 Toyota, sealing a 1-2-3 sweep up front by Joe Gibbs-owned cars.
Busch said post-race that had concerns about running short of fuel on the final green-flag charge, but still placed .817 of a second over a closing Suarez at the checkered flag.
"Suarez was definitely faster than us when he got clean track," Busch said. "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 one, two, three and for me to get a victory here in my home town, check one off the list — that's pretty awesome."
Chase Elliott, a former series champ and the winner of the XFINITY season opener at Daytona, finished fourth in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon took fifth place in the No. 2 Chevy.
Jones started second and held his position over the opening green-flag run, but two pit lane speeding penalties placed him in an early deficit. Jones was too fast in three sections on a Lap 54 pit stop. He lost one lap to the front-runners as he served his pass-through penalty, but was clocked as too fast during that trip to pit road as well.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]"I wasn't even close to the blues (lights on the tachometer)," Jones told his crew over the radio. "I never even touched 'em."
After serving both penalties, Jones rejoined the race in 23rd place, two laps down. He regained one lap with a wave-around in the second caution period and then was the beneficiary of the race's third yellow flag, returning him to the lead lap.
Elliott Sadler dropped from the lead in the XFINITY Series standings, having his three-point edge over Suarez turn to a three-point gap with an eighth-place finish.
Darrell Wallace Jr., Justin Marks and Cody Ware escaped injury after a heavy crash that brought out a lengthy red flag after 135 laps. Ware's No. 25 skidded off the Turn 2 wall to a stop, where it was hit hard by Wallace's Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford. Marks popped the wall, then piled into Wallace's car on the backstretch.
|Busch celebrates with some donuts|
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How does it feel to win an XFINITY race at Las Vegas?
“We were worried about fuel, but more so we more so worried about (Daniel) Suarez. 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. I wish for as good as we were at the beginning of the race in the beginning of the run and end of the run, I was hoping we’d have some long run speed there at the end. Just wasn’t showing. Suarez 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 one-two-three and for me to get a victory here in my home town, check one off the list – that’s pretty awesome."
What does it feel like to get a win at your home town track?
“It’s awesome that they have always supported racing out here in Vegas. Fans have always supported the Bullring and then fans that always come out here to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I love it and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, so I’m glad they are out here supporting all of us, including myself and hopefully they’re buying some NOS here tonight."
What does it mean to get your first NXS victory at Las Vegas?
“Certainly it was really cool to have the opportunity to win here. I’ve had many opportunities in the past or have come up short and haven’t quite had the day we’ve needed to get it done. Today, this weekend with Chris Gayle (crew chief) and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, they’ve been building some really good stuff. JGR Engines are fast as well, too. The NOS Energy Drink Camry was really good and I just can’t say enough about them and the work that goes into everything makes my job look easy. Today was pretty special to finally get a win here in my hometown and check that off the list. Really excited about that and being able to accomplish that and one last that is on the list is Watkins Glen and before that we have many more. Next week is another one we want to go out there and try to score a victory."
What does it mean to extend the NXS record as the all-time lap leader with 16,084 laps led?
“Cool, I find out a lot of milestones after they happen. I’m not one that looks at them and sees what happens. Being the winningest driver, that happened a while ago. I think that was 2011. I’m getting old, I better quit (laughter). It’s just a unique opportunity for me to be in great equipment that I am in with Joe Gibbs Racing and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all the guys. We come out here and try to perform and do our jobs. Our job is to come out here and win. We not only win for ourselves, but we win for our partners like NOS Energy Drink and our team and everyone back at Joe Gibbs Racing. The amount of laps led that we’ve had over the years has been a lot, being up front that much is pretty cool, but it’s been more fun to lead at Bristol because they go by in 15 seconds, so you can count them up pretty quick versus a road course or something like that. All in all, that’s a big number."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Have you spoken with Daniel Suarez or Erik Jones after the race?
“I saw Daniel (Suarez), he came to victory lane and he congratulated us, the whole team as well as myself. I told him, ‘Man, that was all I had. Those last 10 laps, that was everything I could give.’ He was faster than us, he was gaining and he was closing. It seemed like my car could get through traffic a little bit better than him and then we were single file running lap time to lap time he could be a little bit faster than me. I was just a little too tight there at the end of the race. He was really loose in traffic around other cars. That’s the kind of thing you play with, it’s actually pretty unique where my car was tight enough and I was really good in traffic and he was free enough he could pass by himself. We kind of played a little bit of a cat and mouse game there towards the end there. The closer you get towards the checkered flag, lap cars tend to give more leeway for the leaders and that might have helped Daniel gain on us a little more where my advantage in the middle of the race where lap cars don’t give way sort of went away."
Was this your biggest NXS win of your career, doing so in your hometown?
“No, probably not. I think this race is a big one, but I’d have to put it right up there with the Brickyard and being able to win at the Brickyard last year with Chris (Gayle, crew chief) and my guys with the 54 car, but also to sweep that weekend and win the Cup race the next day, that was a little bit sweeter and so much cooler. Maybe then this one, unless I win tomorrow and maybe we’ll talk about it again and see which one is cooler. Certainly the Brickyard has a little bit more history around it than Vegas does. For me, this is right up there with the top-two or top-three."
What do you think about Daniel Suarez and his ability to learn on the race track?
“Daniel (Suarez) is one of the guys that probably calls me, talks to me more than any of the other drivers I’ve helped come up through the ranks. He always wants to learn, always wants to get better, always wants to get better and know what he’s missing in order to be better. I give him an A for effort, he certainly does everything he’s supposed to do to try to get better. I think he’s just getting more and more opportunities running the XFINITY cars and running the Trucks to be able to put that to good use on the race track and show that he has good skill. Obviously today they had a really good car like we did. He was able to know what he wanted in his race car to get through traffic versus being by himself and he was better than us when it came down to clean air. He’s obviously done a good job. I think one of the things that I think is most impressive if I remember back to the restart there, he fell back to maybe fourth or fifth and then mustard his way back up to second and chased me down. He certainly had some good speed and did a good job passing race cars to get to second and then again having to deal with lapped traffic. A-plus for effort, for sure."
CHRIS GAYLE, Crew Chief, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean to have a team that can perform this strong so early in the season?
“It has been a strong start this year. I think you saw this coming towards the end of last year, if you just looked at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) as a whole and how we started running on the XFINITY side. It’s a big tribute to all the guys at the shop and all the work that was started last year has come over to this year and we’ve been able to start a touch better than where we left off last year. Everybody likes to look at the JGR cars and say, ‘Man, they were one-two-three qualifying two weeks in a row, they’re running up front.’ It’s a lot of work by a lot of guys to make that happen. It’s not like one thing that does it – it’s work over the offseason, work last year and it all kind of comes together."
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
Did you have anything for Kyle Busch in the closing laps?
“Honestly, I just felt like it took me too much time to figure out how to be fast with a loose race car in traffic. I think at the end we would have been able to figure it out, but it took me 10 laps and I lost two seconds there and it was too difficult to catch those seconds back. I’m proud of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and the entire 19 ARRIS Toyota team – they did an amazing job. It was superfast, one of the fastest out there all race long. We were just a little short."
How good does it feel to be the new NXS points leader?
“I think it’s too early. We are just three races into the season. With the new Chase format, anything can happen. You need to win a race to be safe and lock yourself into the Chase. At the same time, we can win the race and if we don’t have the shot to win the race, we need to keep working with the consistency. It’s something we need to keep working to find more speed and try to win a race to be even more comfortable."
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How were you able to come back from the penalties and finish third?
“Overall we fought back again and another solid day out of it and another top-three finish. The one thing is we had really good race cars and that’s shown the last two weeks with how we’ve run the last two with Kyle (Busch) winning and us being up there and having a shot. I just wish we could have been in contention. I felt like our Interstate Batteries Camry was good enough to run with Kyle at times and would have really loved the shot at having him straight up I guess you could say. We’ll go on to next week and try again."
How was your race?
“It was a long day. We put ourselves in a hole two laps down and had to fight back all day to get back in position to at least have a shot at it. Never really did that after we got the lucky dog, we had to race back up to third and by that time I pretty much burnt the tires off it. Settled in for third at that point and kind of rode the rest of the race out. I would have loved another caution, said the same thing last week, but would have loved another caution to rerack everybody and get some tires on it and make one more adjustment. I kind of had a better idea of what I needed in the car. Just getting in some clean air finally. Just need to stop making mistakes and go into next week and hopefully have a mistake free day."
What happened with the pit road speeding penalty you experienced?
“We didn’t fully figure it out. The assumption is there was a mistake made when we were calibrating the lights. You have that five mile per hour buffer on pit road, when I ran our sets of lights that we were supposed to run, we sped. I went down to the next set of lights and still sped and then at that point I was running the lights that are supposed to be pit road speed – 45 miles per hour – and that was safe. I am guessing we just miss-calibrated something along the way and will have to look into it. Not exactly sure what it is. We’ll find out during the week and fix the mistake."
|25||07||Ray Black Jr||Chevrolet||27||192||0||Running|
|27||78||B J McLeod||Ford||39||191||0||Running|
|33||6||Darrell Wallace Jr||Ford||12||135||1||Accident|
|40||10||Jeff Green||Toyota||31||2||0||Rear Gear|
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