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Kyle Busch sweeps stages to win Strat 200 at Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS – Little would make Kyle Busch happier than a three-race weekend sweep in his hometown. The driver of the No. 51 Toyota took the first step on Friday night, winning the Strat 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For the second straight week, Busch swept both preliminary stages before taking the checkered flag. In his 2019 series debut last Friday at Atlanta, Busch broke a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. for most career victories. On Friday, he extended the record to 53.

Despite leading 111-of-134 laps, Busch complained of a tight handling condition throughout much of the race.

“We fought it in practice a little bit,” said Busch, who now has 196 victories across all three of NASCAR’s national series combined. “We worked on it an awful lot to make it better. (Crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) and these guys did an amazing job on this Cessna Tundra. It was really, really fast. Just kept working on it all night long – every pit stop.

“It’s cool to win here in your hometown, being in Las Vegas, starting off a triple weekend. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Busch, who finished 1.211 seconds ahead of runner-up and reigning series champion Brett Moffitt, will compete in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 Xfinity Series race before trying for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Las Vegas on Sunday.

Busch already has two weekend sweeps to his credit, both at Bristol Motor Speedway, in 2010 and 2017.

Moffitt had one shot at Busch in the closing laps after gaining ground on the race winner during the last cycle of pit stops. When Busch came to pit road under green on Lap 114, four laps after Moffitt, he lost most of a three-second lead as Moffitt ran those four extra laps with new right-side tires.

Moffitt got close to Busch’s rear bumper on Lap 119, but his No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet got loose behind the No. 51 Toyota and fell back. Nevertheless, the second-place finish was a victory of sorts for Moffitt, who recovered from a pit road mistake – the rear air gun hose was trapped beneath the rear tire during a stop under caution on Lap 33 – and worked his way back through the field.

“We had to use our stuff up getting back to the front – another pit road mistake,” Moffitt said. “I had one chance to get to (Busch’s) bumper. I knew it was going to be a make-or-break move. Unfortunately, it was ‘break.’”

Matt Crafton rallied from early rear end damage to run third. Stewart Friesen, who battled Busch during the second stage and led 20 laps, finished fourth, followed by Harrison Burton. Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland, Johnny Sauter, Ryan Reed and Ross Chastain completed the top 10.