NASCAR Las Vegas Notes: Bubba Wallace Impresses; Young Brexton Busch Takes on Bullring
Bubba Wallace led the Toyota camp Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, producing his first top-five finish at the 1.5-mile track. Prior to Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, Wallace’s best finish at the speedway had been sixth in 2020.
“I thought we were going to settle for sixth right before the caution came out and I think that’s about where we were all day,” Wallace said after his first top-five finish since September 2022 when he won at Kansas. “We have a lot of stuff to work on, but a good, solid day.”
Wallace ran in the top 10 throughout the race. He finished Stage 1 in eighth and Stage 2 in sixth. He was sixth when the yellow flag waved with four laps remaining. Wallace said his car performed better in the race than it did in practice, but during the event they couldn’t get his Toyota’s front end to work.
The top-five finish was Wallace's 12th in the Cup Series. This is is sixth full season in Cup.
Elliott Starts Therapy
Chase Elliott, who broke his left leg Friday in a snowboarding accident in Colorado, was scheduled to begin therapy Monday.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver watched Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 with team owner Rick Hendrick at his home in Charlotte, N.C.
Elliott underwent three hours of surgery Friday night at a Colorado hospital. He returned to North Carolina on Saturday after being released from the hospital.
Josh Berry drove Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet to a 29th-place finish, two laps off the pace, in Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Even though Berry had two Cup starts in 2021, this was his first race in the current NASCAR Cup car.
Cindric Struggles His Way To First Top 10 This Season
Austin Cindric struggled through Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, coming from a lap down to finish sixth, his first top 10 this year.
“Felt like we earned a top 15 from the depths of hell for a while,” Cindric said. “A little bit of strategy, a little bit of good pit stops, some good restarts on my end and a good recovery. You’ve got to run up front in these things to expect to win, but when we don’t have it, it’s good to know that we can get back.”
Logano First Out at Las Vegas
Pole winner Joey Logano was the first driver to exit Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Logano was the loser of a three-wide battle involving himself, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch on lap 183. Logano collided with Keselowski who was in the middle, spun across the track and bounced across the apron. His Team Penske crew was unable to make the needed repairs during the allotted time.
“It is what it is,” Logano said. “Just off on overall speed. We had the balance somewhat close, just not fast.”
Logano said Keselowski pinched him into the corner a bit, but “I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it.”
A three-time Las Vegas winner, Logano finished last in the 36-car field.
NASCAR Cup Drivers to Get Lengthy Phoenix Session
NASCAR Cup drivers will have their longest practice session this year at Phoenix Raceway to help them adapt to the updates made to the car for road courses and most of the tracks measuring 1.058-mile or less.
On Friday, the drivers will have a 50-minute practice session to get a feel for their cars, which will have a 30 percent reduction in downforce. In addition to Phoenix, the components will be used at the Charlotte ROVAL, Chicago Street Course, Circuit of the Americas, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Martinsville, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Richmond, Sonoma, and Watkins Glen.
The changes call for a 2-inch spoiler, the removal of three diffuser strakes and engine panel strakes.
IndyCar Attracts Chastain’s Interest
With the Chevrolet NASCAR Cup and IndyCar simulators adjacent to one another, Ross Chastain was provided with the opportunity to have a serious conversation with Conor Daily about driving the open-wheel cars.
“He gave me a lot of advice, some definitely, probably turned me away from it, but some was definitely attainable one day,” said Chastain, who emphasized he was focused on Cup racing.
“Every series is different and every driver in those series has come up in a different way. I wish I could have raced 15 years ago in another country and could have gotten to experience that. I want to get outside my comfort zone and get outside of the box. I just had genuine questions.”
Chastain said it was the sport’s business side that turned him off about open-wheel racing. However, if team co-owner Justin Marks ventures into IndyCar racing in the future, that could open the door for Chastain.
“Justin and I have a love for racing,” Chastain said. “We share that love for driving cars to the limit. I don’t care if it has fenders or no fenders, it has ABS or drum brakes. I want to go race the dirt track 30 miles from where I grew up that I never got to race at.
“My goal is Cup racing and my goal is circle track NASCAR racing, but exploring the horizons of other stuff is an inner desire I have. I love the art of it (racing).”
Chastain placed 12th in Sunday’s race after running in the top 10 most of the day. He finished third in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2. After his final green-flag stop he was sixth with 36 laps remaining. He was sixth on the final restart, but dropped half a dozen positions during the overtime finish.
Brexton Busch Takes on the Las Vegas Bullring
Kyle Busch’s 7-year-old son, Brexton, made his West Coast Bandolero debut at The Bullring at Las Vegas, the same track where his father began his racing career and his grandfather, Tom Busch, won the track’s inaugural race in 1985.
Brexton finished second in the Bash at The Bullring on the eve of Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race.
Last year, Brexton won 32 races at 13 different tracks in 11 states in two different types of race cars. He also earned his second consecutive track championship in the Beginner Box Stock division at Mountain Creek (N.C.) Speedway.
Gutiérrez Honors His Brother at Las Vegas
Max Gutierrez was scheduled to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener at Daytona for AM Racing, but shortly before the event his younger brother and best friend Fico Gutiérrez died in an auto accident outside Mexico City. He sat out the event, devoting time to his family.
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the former ARCA Menards Series East winner dedicated his fifth career Truck Series start to his late brother. He finished 21st.
Kyle Busch won the event from the pole. It was his record-extending 63rd NASCAR Truck Series win.