Fresh off a win at Fontana in the Cup Series, hometown hero Kyle Busch led the Craftsman Truck Series field to green Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At the drop of the green flag, Busch held the advantage over rookie Nick Sanchez to lead lap one, as the field fanned out in a chaotic frenzy behind them.
The battle at the front was intense, as cars running as far back as sixth sat within a second of leader Busch, with a near incident occurring early on between Christian Eckes and Zane Smith. Just shy of lap 10, Daniel Dye went to pit road after a spin resulting in a tire issue, but he made it to pit road before a caution could come out.
Meanwhile, Sanchez took the lead away from Busch, with Ty Makeski and Eckes not far behind. As the laps of stage one continued to shorten, Busch reclaimed his lead over Sanchez, just as the caution came out for Brett Holmes who made contact with the wall.
Before the stage could come to a conclusion, things were placed on hold as a good number of the team’s crew arrived late to the race due to a flight cancellation. Meanwhile, leader Kyle Busch took a second trip down the pit road for a loose wheel. When back under green flag conditions, Sanchez and Majeski battled side by side of the lead, as Eckes, and Zane Smith battled behind them.
As Zane Smith maneuvered his way to the front, Sanchez pancaked the wall. Christian Eckes attempted to shoot it up the middle between Smith and Majeski for the lead but nearly spun out in the process, just barely saving his truck after brushing the wall. In the end, despite a valent effort from Majeski, he had nothing for Smith who took the win in stage one.
Stage two was underway with a two-man battle for the lead between Carson Hocevar and Grant Enfinger. Hocevar had the advantage as Ross Chastain attempted to take a shot for the lead but to no avail. Kyle Busch momentarily regained the lead, but Hocevar quickly recovered.
At lap 40 the caution flag waved after Matt Mills spun off of turn three, on pit road he appeared to be overheating slightly. Back under green flag conditions, Carson Hocevar quickly overtook the lead, as Smith hungrily charged forward with Ben Rhodes, chasing after Hocevarfor the lead, Kyle Busch quickly following with them. The caution flag waved once again with just 13 laps remaining in stage two, as Lawless Alan tagged the wall.
At the restart, Hocevar surged ahead with support from behind, as Busch slipped past Rhodes to contend for the lead with less than ten to go in the stage. Meanwhile, Christian Eckes after an excellent save, made his way back to the front to put himself in the lead battle. The yellow flag waved once again with just six laps remaining as Kris Wright made contact with the wall.
At the restart, a three-lap shootout for the stage win caused pandemonium as the field fanned four wide at the front. Things became hectic throughout the field, meanwhile, as a wreck ensued that included the likes of Hailie Deegan and John Hunter Nemechek, amongst others. With the stage ending under caution, Carson Hocevar walked off with the stage win.
The final stage was underway with Kaz Grala and Tanner Gray at the front of the field, battling intently for the lead, with Eckes and Busch hard charging behind them. Ultimately it was Grala who was able to hold the lead, with Eckes, Busch, and Tanner Gray three wide behind them. Busch eventually managed to steal the lead away from Grala, with Eckes falling into second behind him.
As the laps continued the wind down in the stage, Busch held on to his lead, and for the first time all night, a leader seemed to finally be placing a gap between them and the rest of the field, as second place Eckes sat three seconds back. With just under 40 laps to go, the battle for second began to heat up as Ben Rhodes was able to take over the position from Eckes, with Zane Smith replicating the move. With 35 laps to go green fag pit stops were underway.
After the pit cycle, the lead turned into the hands of Daniel Dye, after having a rough start at the beginning of the race. With 25 to go, Dye finally made his scheduled stop, handing the lead back over to Busch, with Smith running almost five seconds behind him. As laps continued to wind down, Busch continued to dominate over the field, holding a sizeable lead over Smith, Rhodes, and Corey Heim. In the end, no one was able to catch Las Vegas’s hometown hero, as Kyle Busch win on to steal the win. The rest of the top-five was rounded out by Zane Smith in second, Ben Rhodes in third, Corey Heim in fourth, and Ty Majeski in fifth.
Featured image credits to Patrick Valley