- Crunching The Numbers: 2017 Toyota Owners 400
- Track Talk: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond
- In the Fast Lane with Michael McDowell
- Track Talk: Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
- Crunching The Numbers: 2017 Food City 500
- Track Talk: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas
- Crunching The Numbers: 2017 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
- Track Talk: STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway
- Track Talk: Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway
- Dropping the Hammer with Elliott Sadler
On The Gas, On The Brakes In Las Vegas
- Updated: March 14, 2017
It’s week number three of the season and some drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are moving up quite nicely after a trip to Las Vegas while others are looking for a time machine to start this year over.
It’s a long way to go. Who cashed in? And who may have hit rock bottom in Las Vegas this past weekend?
On The Gas…
Number 5: Bruton and Marcus Smith (SMI) – After securing a second Cup date for 2018, they could only hope that the fans would see something that made this a good decision. A decent race that saw a fair amount of side by side action, a pass for the win on the final lap, and a driver to win all three stages, all that was missing was Michael Buffer for the fight.
Number 4: Kyle Larson – It’s number two again so maybe we should nickname him “Mark Martin.” He continues to run very well and get as close as that runner up spot, but someone is just a touch better at the end of the day. The good news is that a 5.3 average finish over the first three races puts him one point out of the overall lead.
Number 3: Brad Keselowski – I hope before Keselowski left Vegas that he used some of his luck from Sunday on the strip. Having what was really the best car on Sunday and looking for back to back wins in Vegas, a part failure derailed the 2012 Cup champ’s efforts to the checkered flag. However, BK was still able to manage a top 5 and hang on to the points lead. Sometimes, it’s better the lucky than good.
Number 2: Ryan Blaney – Leonard Wood said if this kid isn’t running in the top 10, they’re not bringing good enough cars. Apparently, the cars are fine and Blaney is doing his job behind the wheel as he continues to run up front, prompting everyone to ask – when will Ryan Blaney be the next in a long line of names to wheel the famed 21 Wood Brothers Ford to Victory Lane? Soon. Very soon.
Number 1: Martin Truex Jr. – Hard to look past the guy that had lady luck smile over his car, as Truex and the Denver based Furniture Row Toyota team shined like a stack of gold in the Las Vegas sun on Sunday afternoon. “A little bit of a gift, but we’ve given some away, so it feels good to come out on the good end for once,” Truex said. It’s the first win for the newly designed 2018 Toyota Camry as well.
That’s the good and the drivers that are “On The Gas.” Now, for those on the other end, banging their heads against walls because of poor finishes, or against fists and feet…
On The Brakes…
Number 5: Corey LaJoie – As the son of former Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie continues to try to make a name for himself in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Corey LaJoie once again finds trouble and is leaving the track early – way early. A lap 18 engine failure saw LaJoie hit his own oil and the outside retaining wall in turn two, leaving him last at the end of the day.
Number 4: Kurt Busch – The Daytona winner saw the lights go out in Vegas. A battery issue began to plague the No. 41 Monster Energy Ford, he would run several laps before being forced to pit road for a battery change that would leave him four laps down to the field in 30th.
Number 3: Joey Logano – Trouble started on lap 81 at the end of the first segment when crew chief Todd Gordon decided to keep his driver Joey Logano on track but fell faster than my cash flow at the poker table. Tires meant everything. Logano would manage to rebound, but his real problems came late after a run in with Kyle Busch that would have him ducking flying punches and his crew in a scrapheap on the ground on pit road.
Number 2: Kyle Busch: His desire to win has never been questioned. Unfortunately, his maturity has over the years. It showed on Sunday after a last lap scuffle with Logano that sent Busch spinning down pit road. Busch had no intentions of talking, with one failed punch, walking to the garage beaten and bloodied. Luckily for him, they looked like Monsters and with the new title sponsor, NASCAR will let this one go, to the delight of many fans.
Number 1: – Kevin Harvick: He couldn’t have been ready to get out of Vegas any faster than someone that just lost their entire fortune on one bet. Running well earlier in the going, a tire failure would send the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford hard in to the frontstretch wall on lap 68.
Harvick said it wasn’t nearly as bad as the medical response team, remarking that it took them forever to get to the car, a quote that may drawn a few eye raises in the NASCAR trailer. Good news for Harvick – Phoenix is next.
Las Vegas is in the rear view and on to the jewel in the desert, Phoenix International Raceway. Expect at least one of those bottom five to move to the top next week, but we’ll find out who’s On the Gas and who is dragging that brake.