RAPID REACTION: Domination and Redemption
A rather calm Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway turned eventful in the final laps and produced a thrilling finish followed by a post-race confrontation.
Had Brad Keselowski not faced late-race problems, slowed, and lost the lead in the closing laps, the story of Sunday’s race would have been written quite differently as the fireworks unfolded on the final laps and following the race.
Busch vs. Logano
As the pack caught Keselowski, quick maneuvers were needed for Kyle Busch to avoid the slower No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. Busch swerved low and made contact with Joey Logano heading into Turn 3 on the last lap.
The contact upset Logano’s car, and he broke loose in the middle of the corner, sliding up the track into Busch. Busch then spun down across the Turn 4 apron and onto pit road while Logano continued onto the checkered flag.
Busch wasn’t pleased with Logano following the incident, walked up to him, and took a swing. This resulted in a melee on pit road between Busch, Logano, and No. 22 crew members. Both Busch and Logano were pulled away, and Busch had blood across his forehead. He was checked and released from the infield care center.
Logano finished fourth while Busch came home 22nd after both drivers ran up front throughout the afternoon.
Domination and Redemption
Martin Truex Jr. has often dominated races but come up short of victory in the end. Sunday looked like another example as he led 150 laps and won the first two stages but Brad Keselowski’s stronger short-run car put him out front in the closing laps.
However, as Keselowski slowed in the last couple of circuits, Truex Jr. closed in and reclaimed the lead, and held onto it for the remainder of the race. This redemption put the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota in Victory Lane for the first time this season and at Las Vegas.
Jimmie Johnson ended 2016 in walk-off style as he captured the race win and the championship in the season finale. However, it has been slow going for the seven-time champion to begin 2017.
After crashing in the DAYTONA 500 and placing 34th, and finishing 19th at Atlanta, he entered Las Vegas eyeing improvement. He ran better throughout the race and spent time towards the front. However, the potential for a top-10 result was lost late in the event as he had to return to pit road following his final pit stop to tighten lug nuts.
With less than ten laps remaining, it made a recovery difficult, but Johnson did score his best result of the season, placing 11th.
The youth movement is proving to be in full swing through the first three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races of the season. At least three drivers under the age of 30 have finished inside the top-10 in each race so far in 2017.
It was the second consecutive week for Larson to finish runner-up and Elliott to place in the top-five. A fourth-place result marked Logano’s third top 10 of the year but first top-five finish.
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