Kyle Busch overcomes early contact, pit issues to finish sixth at Las Vegas

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Kyle Busch overcomes early contact, pit issues to finish sixth at Las Vegas

NASCAR

Kyle Busch overcomes early contact, pit issues to finish sixth at Las Vegas

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Kyle Busch felt he had a “dismal day” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he managed to finish sixth in the South Point 400.

A collision with Joey Logano on lap 88 damaged the right side of Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. The two had lined up on the front row for a restart and fought for the lead going into Turn 3 when Denny Hamlin made it three-wide. While Logano would have to pit with a tire rub and had his night hindered by lost track position, Busch soldiered on although he said his car had no speed over the radio.

Before the end of the second stage, a green-flag pit stop and air gun malfunction allowed Busch’s team to work on the car. But the long stop kept Busch from finishing inside the top 10 (he was 11th) and earning stage points.

“I don’t know what all went down there,” said Busch. “I know Denny made a last-minute move in order to make us three wide, and I don’t know if the 22 [Logano] knew that was coming and didn’t adjust for it, didn’t plan for it. It kind of seemed like he expected me to go to the bottom and run the bottom, and he was going to run my door, so just mile-and-a-half normal stuff.”

Busch led six laps Sunday night, but they came before the contact. Although he stayed within the top half of the leaderboard through the second part of the race, Busch was never a serious challenger for the win.

An ill-timed caution with less than 35 laps to go also trapped Busch one lap down, and he had to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap, as did 11 of the 12 playoff drivers. Busch then pitted one last time on the final caution and lined up 11th for the overtime restart, gaining five spots by the finish.

“I did not feel like we had a race-winning car (before the contact),” Busch said. “I felt like we were going be, the way everything kind of netted out, a fourth or fifth-place car. That was about all we were going to get, so definitely lost a lot of points in that second stage just trying to make sure we were fourth or fifth or sixth, somewhere in there, and we finished sixth, so that was about where we were going to end up luckily.

“But man, it was looking ugly there in that second stage and much of the final stage as well where we were at. So, dismal day here in Vegas again.”

While Busch has finished no worse than seventh in the first four playoff races, the lack of wins and playoff points has him near the bottom of the playoff grid. Not helping matters was that Busch watched older brother Kurt win at Las Vegas, which puts Kyle below the cutline going into Talladega Superspeedway.

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