Sunday NASCAR Notebook: Vibration Squelches Chances For Kyle Busch At Las Vegas

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LAS VEGAS – Kyle Busch made the move of the race to get the lead in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a huge vibration in the right front of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hurt his winning chances in the closing laps.

From the sixth position on a restart on Lap 224 of 267, Busch took Jimmie Johnson and eventual race winner Brad Keselowski three-wide into Turn 1, climbed to third place off Turn 2 and roared past both Keselowski and Joey Logano into Turn 3.

Busch held the top spot until Keselowski passed him for the lead on Lap 262, as the vibration got progressively worse.

“Huge vibration, I don’t know,” said Busch, who lost three spots in the final five laps and finished fourth but retained the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series lead. “I had a vibration when they put the rights (right-side tires) on, and then it just kept getting worse and worse, and there at the end I didn’t know if the tire was coming apart or what the deal was.

“I was trying to give it everything I had, and it just would not turn. It got so tight… that was the tightest we were all day. Ran my track bar up two inches and it didn’t do anything. Definitely something wrong, but can’t say enough about this whole team. They did a great job and prepared a good car. We struggled really, really bad all weekend, we were horrible (in practice and qualifying).
“That’s not at all where we should have finished considering how it started. It was a good day. It wasn’t a win, but we were doing a good job doing what we need to do to keep top-fiving it — and the wins will come.”


Though Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott are staging an intense battle in the race for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, they ran more like veterans than neophytes on Sunday.

Blaney planted himself firmly in the top 10 for most of the afternoon and rolled home sixth, the best finish on an open-motor track of his young career. It was also a welcome comeback from a late wreck that ruined a promising day last week in Atlanta.

“Very significant,” Blaney said of his run in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. “Especially after Atlanta last week, getting spun out on the last lap. Kind of got us down a lot. To come here and have a solid run all day really ups the spirits. This team is working very well together. We kind of had a trial run last year running part time. Now we brought in some new personnel this year. They’ve done a great job since Daytona.

“But just reps at the race track and consistency there, they’ve been doing a great job. (Crew chief) Jeremy Bullins is doing a fantastic job also. Both our organizations (the Wood Brothers and Team Penske) are working side by side. It definitely showed today. It’s a big, big accomplishment for the Wood Brothers team today and hopefully gives us some good momentum for Phoenix (next Sunday).”

Elliott ran in the top five for a long stretch of the race, but he was unable to avoid the spinning car of Matt Kenseth during a pileup in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 225. He finished 38th.

Elliott thought he should have been able to avoid the wreck.

“Just disappointed — what a fast race car,” Elliott said. “I appreciate everybody working hard. I feel like we made a lot of gains this weekend. Just a terrible job on my behalf. That is pitiful. We’ve run three races and finished one. Just a bad job on my end. I ought to know better to miss a wreck like that.”

Asked what he could have done differently, Elliott replied, “Got off the brake and missed it. Matt spun out, and I just did a bad job missing him. Just locked up the brakes and ran right into the back of him.”


A brief rain delayed the start of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wind played havoc with the proceedings all day long, preventing crews from using large pit signs to signal their drivers.

A dust storm obscured visibility late in the race.

Dust storm, wind storm—it was all the same to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished eighth.

“Yeah, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two,” Earnhardt said. “I think that affected all the cars and made the cars much harder to drive. We had a huge wind blowing across the race track up into the wall off of (Turn) 2, and that made it difficult getting down into the bottom of Turn 3. It was a challenge. And you could definitely tell when the gusts were picking up…

“Visibility, maybe, is the only thing you get a little nervous about when the sandstorm came through, but the winds weren’t too windy (to make driving perilous). I thought it was before we got in the car, but I was just as intrigued as anybody to see how it would go and how the race would go with these kinds of winds. It’s definitely a factor that makes it another challenge. All the drivers want is more challenges; more hoops to jump through.”

And on Sunday, they got more than their share.

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