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March 6, 2016

Wind, dust made for 'Wild West' race at Las Vegas

RELATED: Full race results

LAS VEGAS – Joey Logano appropriately likened the bizarre weather at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 to the “Wild, Wild West.”

Huge gusts of wind, rain showers and even a light dust storm occurred on race day, delaying the green flag by a few minutes and creating oddball conditions mid-race, before finally clearing and turning into a peaceful sunshine by the time Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag.

As the field came around the 1.5-mile oval on the second lap, four-time champion-turned FOX television commentator Jeff Gordon said, “No sign of these winds upsetting the race cars.”

Until it did. The wind picked up at various points during the afternoon, and in the final 100 laps, a huge dust cloud briefly surrounded the race field.

“It was dusty, windy, rainy and crazy,” second-place finisher Logano said after the race. “But it made for a great race. I was pretty worried about what we were going to do with the wind before the race first started. It was really windy during driver intros. The ride in the back of the pick-up truck (around the track) and the rain hitting you in the face made it feel like you were going 100 mph.

“I was a little nervous about what Turn 3 was going to look like the first time we went down there (in the race). But it was consistent and wasn’t gusting much, so we all kind of knew what we had and could adjust to it.”

Rookie Ryan Blaney – whose sixth-place finish was best among the first-year drivers – said he was pretty captivated by the strange weather too.

“The biggest problem was it was kind of unpredictable,” Blaney said. “If it was a steady wind it wasn’t so bad and you could kind of get into a rhythm. I got blown into Turn 3 pretty hard one time and almost took the 88 [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] out, and that would have been terrible.

“As I was sliding up toward him that was on my mind,” Blaney said smiling.

“But the spotters did a great job of letting us know if it was picking up or what direction it was coming. It was very different today between the dust and wind – definitely more than anything I’ve ever been a part of.”

Las Vegas native Kyle Busch – who finished fourth after being passed for the race lead with five laps remaining Sunday afternoon – said he felt worse for the fans in the stands than for the competitors dealing with the conditions on track.

“This weather was horrible for the race fans, I’d say,” Busch said. “I feel bad for all of them. When you deal with the wind in the desert you get sand in your face and in your eyes and everything. For us behind the wheel it wasn’t too bad. There were some opportunities where the wind was blowing in different directions and you could really hustle your race car, and others where it was blowing in another direction and you’d have to ease up and be more tentative.”