Kyle Busch had just taken the lead midway through the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and seemed headed toward his third win in three days at his hometown track when he brought his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in for a green-flag pit stop.
That routine move proved to be his undoing in thwarting his attempt at a tripleheader sweep when he came onto pit road too fast, smoke billowing and tires screeching.
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Busch was nabbed for traveling too fast on pit road on Lap 129 of the 267-lap race, and forced to serve a pass-through penalty.
Busch fell to 24th and one lap down after the mistake, but it didn’t mean the end of his opportunity at the trophy. He managed to work his way into the top five with about 65 laps remaining, but couldn’t manage one final push to the lead as he was held up by the lapped car of Corey LaJoie. He finished third.
“I certainly screwed up our day coming to pit road there,” he said after the race. “We tried a different brake package for us this weekend and trying to make up time in order to get a bigger jump on the guys behind me coming to pit road there and just ruined it for us and we had to come from the back. I think we passed the most cars today so I think we were the most impressive today, but that doesn’t matter because we don’t have a trophy.”
His crew chief Adam Stevens did take positives from the speed of the No. 18 Toyota, as it rallied from the back.
“Mistakes happen, you know,” Stevens said of the pit road error after the race. “He just got into pit road a little hot, locked ’em up and couldn’t get slowed down in time and sped in the first section. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that in this sport. He was trying to get all he could get. It’s part of it.
“But (we’re) pleased with the speed we had in our car and the balance was close, so as a team I felt like we did a good job, and he did a good job on the race track overcoming from that. Kind of ran out of laps there. I think we had speed equal to the car that finished in front of us, but kind of gave our track position away.”
Busch is the only driver in NASCAR history to have won races in three national series at the same track in the same weekend. Both of those came at Bristol Motor Speedway, first in 2010 and most recently in 2017.
— Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service