Kyle Busch was frustrated when the checkered flag flew in Sundays Pennzoil 400 from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. See, Busch led 49 laps on Sunday and despite racing a backup car and coming from the back to front twice, he was in prime position to win in the closing laps.
Busch, pit one lap sooner than Ross Chastain and would cycle ahead as a result.
Busch’s JGR teammate of Denny Hamlin broke his transmission leaving pit road and spun on Lap 220 bringing out a yellow. Busch, would inherit the lead and would stay up front for 42 of the next 43 laps.
Chastain, faded and Busch’s other JGR teammate of Martin Truex Jr. was charging hard. He’d pass Chastain and get to Busch’s bumper and make a real fight between these two for the victory. Then came that Lap 264 caution for Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace which took the win away from Busch.
Everyone pit under that caution for the overtime finish. Busch, took four tires. Three Hendrick cars took two tires and exited 1-2-3. Busch, was fourth. That’s exactly where he’d finish for his 10th career top five on his hometrack which is most all-time.
Alex Bowman held off Kyle Larson for the victory.
“The same (expletive) guy that backs into every (expletive) win that he ever (expletive) gets, backs into another (expletive) win. (Expletive)! (Expletive)!” Busch said.
Is he right?
Well Sundays ending was a perfect storm. HMS being 1–2–3 helped seal the win but it wasn’t intentional.
“No, it was not at all,” Bowman’s crew chef Greg Ives said. “In that moment you don’t have any plans with anybody but yourself. You get as selfish as you possibly can to win a race in the last three laps, green-white-checkered.
“Ultimately when it came out that way, you try to figure out who you can work with and who you can’t. Ultimately for me it was the front row. If we didn’t get the front row, we weren’t going to win the thing. We might have finished 2nd to 20th. That was my mindset. It wasn’t planned. We don’t have time to plan that well for all that.
“Ultimately I know the situation, the 5, how Cliff thinks. Like I said, we work together. He’s got a win. He’s going to gamble. He’s going to either take two tires or stay out. He pitted. I knew two tires were coming. Same with Rudy. Trying to win the race. We have great cars. We have the speed capable of giving us a front row and winning the thing.
“Ultimately, like I said, we came out on top, but there was no plan between all of us, that’s for sure.”
That played into the luck. So did Larson choosing the inside lane. But, is he over lucky to win these races?
Well he sort of is. Bowman has won 5 times in the last 31 races. He had two wins in his previous 197 starts.
In looking back at his last 5 wins?
He won at Richmond last spring by leading only the final 10 laps. A late race caution put him third for the final restart and he used fresh tires to win.
In Dover last May, he led the final 97 laps after exiting pit lane first on his final stop.
In Pocono last June, Kyle Larson blew a tire on the last lap and handed the win to Bowman.
In Martinsville last October, he and Denny Hamlin had late race contact and he’d prevail.
Then there’s Sunday in Vegas. Bowman, won the first stage and was fourth prior to the final caution. The two tire call netted him the win.
Busch, was runner-up in 2 of Bowman’s last three wins.
“I was fast at the end and trying just to do what I could to hold the lead there with (Martin) Truex (Jr.),” Busch continued. “Felt like I inched away finally and we were coming to the white or something, I don’t know what it was, but anyways, it wasn’t meant to be. Not our day. See you next week.”
Bowman even admitted to the fact that the best he probably would have finished on Sunday was third.
“I think the 18 and the 19 were better than us at the end,” he said. “Like if the caution doesn’t come out, I think I was going to get the 1, so probably finish third.”
Hamlin called him a hack after his last win and now Busch this. Seems like he’s getting under the skin of the JGR drivers.