EYE IN THE SKY: Observations From Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — It looked like a driver named Kyle would win the race. Then it looked like Brad Keselowski’s Team Penske No. 22 was the car to beat. But in the end, it was Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, who took the checkered flag in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kyle vs. Kyle
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson battled for the lead throughout all of Stage 1. In the closing laps of the segment, Larson was in a door-to-door fight for the lead with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, but the JGR No. 18 led every lap and won the opening stage by six-hundredths of a second margin.
Larson finished second after leading 33 laps, and Busch finished seventh after winning the pole and leading 48 laps.
After a pair of 30th-place results at Daytona and Atlanta, Justin Allgaier earned his first top five of the season with a fourth-place finish. He finished fifth in Stage 1 and 3rd in Stage 2, marking the first time he earned stage points in NASCAR’s new format.
His one hiccup of the day was when he overshot his pit stall by about two feet during a cycle of green-flag stops with 53 to go, but a couple of late-race cautions helped the JR Motorsports driver climb back into contention for the win.
Trouble for the Vegas native
Thirteen laps into Stage 2, Brendan Gaughan’s No. 62 fell off the pace, and his team reported a plug wire issue. Gaughan was forced to take his Richard Childress Racing machine behind the wall, and the crew changed the carburetor. Since it was a mechanical problem, he was allowed to return to the race. With NASCAR’s new rule about damaged racecars, had he crashed, his day would have ended as soon as he entered the garage.
But with 11 laps remaining in Stage 2, Gaughan got into the Turn 2 wall and spun out onto the backstretch apron, bringing out the fourth caution of the day. He ended up 35th and 11 laps down.
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