By Lori Vizza
Kyle Busch made it perfectly clear that Las Vegas Motor Speedway is his house with a dominating victory in today's Boyd Gaming 300. The hometown hero led all but one lap and held off a late charge by teammate Daniel Suarez to win for the 78th time in his Xfinity Series racing career.
It was the first series victory for Busch in Las Vegas after 12 starts. With the win today, Watkins Glen International is the only track on the series circuit where Busch has yet to record a victory.
"It's really cool to win here," said Busch. "Man, Daniel Suarez was coming on there at the end. He was really, really fast. Today was pretty special, to get a win in the hometown and check that off the list."
Busch set a blistering pace throughout the event and won the race at a record-breaking average speed of 145.415 mph. The previous record was 135.118 mph set by Jeff Burton in 2000.
Busch gave up the lead just once during the 200-lap race to make a green flag pit stop. For a while, it looked like Busch's teammate Suarez would give him a run for the trophy, especially in the closing laps, but Suarez settled for a solid runner-up finish and took over the series points lead by three points over Elliott Sadler.
"Right there at the end it took me a little while to figure out how to be fast through traffic with a loose race car," Suarez admitted. "But honestly, the last 10 or 15 laps we were the fastest race car there. So I'm proud of my guys."
Erik Jones made it a perfect top three sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing but it took a heroic effort on his part to do it.
Jones was penalized for speeding during his first green flag pit stop early in the race. When he came in to serve the pass through penalty, he was nabbed for speeding again. That drew a stop and go penalty and dropped him two laps behind the leaders. Apparently, the lights in the car that are supposed to warn the driver when he is exceeding pit road speed malfunctioned.
Jones made up one lap with a wave around during the second caution of the race. He got back on the lead lap as the beneficiary during the third caution of the race.
"It was a long day for sure," said Jones. "I guess we just miscalibrated something along the way. We'll have to look into it. I had to fight back all day to get back into position to at least have a shot at it, but never really did that. We had to race back up to third and by that time I had pretty much burnt the tires off of it."
The race was red flagged for 19 minutes and 9 seconds when Darrell Wallace, Jr, Cody Ware and Justin Marks crashed in Turn 2. All drivers escaped injury but the debris field required extensive clean up.