Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Wins 1st Truck Race with Chevy at Las Vegas

Well, Kyle Busch is still Kyle Busch.

Just days after winning his first NASCAR Cup Series race with Richard Childress Racing at Auto Club Speedway, Busch won his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race since his team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, switched to Chevrolet.

Even better, the win came at his hometown track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The win is Busch’s 63rd in the Truck Series, and it came in dominating fashion as he led 85 of the 134 laps.

Zane Smith finished second, followed by Ben Rhodes in third. Corey Heim and Ty Majeski rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth, respectively.

See also
Return of Rowdy: Kyle Busch Wins Truck Race at Las Vegas

Top Storylines of the Race

  • Max Gutierrez returned to the track for the first time since he was involved in a car accident that injured himself and took the life of his brother, Fico, on Jan. 29, causing him to miss the first race of the season at Daytona International Speedway. His No. 22 AM Racing truck was adorned with decals and tributes to his brother. Gutierrez finished 21st.
  • Jake Garcia is now 18-years old and will run the rest of the season with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing. After missing Daytona due to being underage, Garcia pulled off a top-10, finishing in 10th.
  • Heim had a strong showing for TRICON Garage, finishing fourth in his No. 11 Toyota. The next highest finishing TRICON truck was Tanner Gray in 13th.
  • The race had a staggering 10 cautions on the night. Bret Holmes brought out the first caution of the night after crashing his No. 32. Matt Mills and Lawless Alan (in his first race of the season after failing to qualify at Daytona) spun their trucks out on separate occasions. In perhaps the most notable wreck of the night, Hailie Deegan got squeezed in the middle on the last lap of stage two and ended up spinning into John Hunter Nemechek, who crashed into the outside wall and collected Ross Chastain. Both Deegan and Nemechek’s trucks were totaled, and for Deegan, it was her second straight DNF. She needs to look to turn her season around quickly.
  • Smith and Carson Hocevar won stages one and two, respectively. Hocevar won the stage under caution due to the Deegan/Nemechek/Chastain crash.
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Incredible Save for Christian Eckes, Rebounds to 6th

Winning Move of the Race

Despite the caution-filled race, the last stage went mostly green, and the final pit stop was under green-flag conditions. Some people tried to bank on a late caution shaking up the strategy, so drivers stayed out a lot later than others hoping for that caution that would never come.

One of those drivers was GMS Racing’s Daniel Dye, as he stayed out as late as he could on a fuel run before pitting with 24 laps to go, handing the lead over to Busch. Despite the strategy failing, Dye was able to bring his No. 43 home 19th.

The pit cycle had expanded Busch’s lead over Smith from five to seven seconds, although it had closed to five by the time the checkered flag flew, as Busch had a surprisingly tough time navigating lap traffic in the last 20 laps.

The biggest moment came as Busch was trying to lap Matt DiBenedetto with 19 laps to go. As Busch went to the bottom to lap him in turn 2, his truck washed up the hill. Busch yanked the wheel to the left to avoid sliding into DiBenedetto, then had to correct back to the right to avoid spinning out. He then straightened the truck out, avoiding a potentially race-ending date with the turn 2 wall.

After a few laps, Busch eventually lapped DiBenedetto with no further problems.

Rookie Report

Garcia’s top 10 earns him Rookie of the Race, but Dye should not be disappointed with his run after spinning his truck out earlier in the race. If the caution had fallen at the right time, we might be looking at the race results a lot differently.

Another driver who should not be disappointed with his performance is Nick Sanchez.

Sanchez qualified on the front row for the second-straight race, only starting behind Busch, and gave Busch a run for his money at times (it should be worth noting that KBM has a technical alliance with Sanchez’s team, Rev Racing). Contact with the wall on lap 25 ended Sanchez’s day, as he would eventually finish 31 laps off the pace, but he and his team are showing speed early, and it will pay off eventually this season.

Paint Scheme of the Race

Tribute schemes are especially powerful after the loss of a loved one. While Gutierrez’s scheme was nothing special to pay tribute to his younger brother, the decal on the back saying “Gracias, Fico” is enough to pull at the heartstrings.

One Thought About This Race

This race ought to silence any more concerns about Busch’s switch to RCR and Chevrolet. Busch has now won two straight NASCAR races and neither was a fluke. Unlike Brad Keselowski’s move to RFK Racing, which has been more of a slow burn, Busch’s move to RCR has shown immediate results, and in the case of KBM, his team hasn’t lost its stride. Look for Busch to be in championship contention, both as a Cup Series driver and a Truck Series owner.

Where to Next?

Back to plate racing. Sort of.

Another off week allows teams to head back to the east coast, where they will get ready to take on the high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Fr8 Auctions 208 will take place Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. ET as part of a doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Coverage for the race can be found on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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Thunder

Kyle has a new lease on life and he is going to be dangerous all season imho. I’m glad he is in a Chevy now so I can root for him and I love that he is with RC now. To me he is the closest thing we have seen to Dale Sr as far as his on track ability.

MikeinAz

Go Kyle. Make Joe Gibbs and Toyota regret letting you go. Kick Toyotas buttocks.

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