Ford has not won three races in-a-row on the NASCAR Cup Circuit since 1992. Brad Keselowski came within two laps of ending that streak. After winning the pole and running towards the front all day, Keselowski took the lead late. It looked as if Keselowski would win for the second week in a row until the next to last lap. Something broke in the front end of Keselowski’s car allowing Martin Truex Jr. to slide past and capture the win.
The Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas provided some last lap excitement that spilled over into the pits after the race. As Keselowski battled to maintain second position Kyle Busch and Joey Logano tangled attempting to pass him. Busch cut low and banged into the 22 Ford of Logano. As the cars entered the final turn Logano slid high and clipped Busch’s fender. As Busch spun off the corner and onto pit road, Logano and Keselowski raced to the finish line. In the pits, after the race, Busch confronted Logano and punches flew. The fight ended with Busch on the ground in a bear lock with one of Logano’s crew. NASCAR officials, quick on the scene, escorted Busch away bleeding from a cut on his forehead.
Ford again placed four cars in the top 10 with Logano fourth, and Keselowski fifth. Ryan Blaney in the Wood Brother’s Ford Fusion posted another strong finish coming it seventh. Clint Bowyer took tenth for Stewart-Haas Racing. Unfortunately, Bowyer’s teammate Kevin Harvick blew a tire early and dropped out of the points lead after finishing 38th. The Fords of Trevor Bayne and Aric Almirola finished 13th and 14th to remain in early season playoff contention. Eight of the 16 playoff spots are currently held by Fords. Harvick’s difficulties dropped him to eight in the standings, while Keselowski took over the top spot.
Stage racing again produced some interesting pit strategies. A late caution in stage one brought the field to pit road for pit stops and four new tires. Logano chose to stay on the track, trading fresh tires for track position. With under 10 laps to go in the stage, Logano’s crew was gambling he could hold on to a top 10 finish and gain championship points. The cars taking tires proved to be the best move, Logano lost the lead in turn one and finished 19th at the end of the stage.
Next Stop for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
The west coast swing continues next week with the Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday with a 3:30 start time. It will be interesting to see if the off-track action carries over on-track. Keep an eye on the 18 and 22 teams as Busch and Logano face off in the desert heat.