Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Busch has rough weekend in Vegas


Kyle Busch's No. 18 spins out during Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, causing him to finish in 30th place after leading most of the way.


LAS VEGAS -- Kyle Busch didn't get to celebrate very much during his visit home.

Busch entered Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup Series points leader and a contender for the victory. A blown engine ended his chances, knocking him out of the race and off the top of the leader board.

Busch finished 38th to drop 13 spots to 14th in the standings. He didn't fare much better in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, when his three-wide move sent him spinning through the grass and to a 30th-place finish after he led a race-high 84 laps.

"I've been blowing tires, mowing grass, knocking walls down, and setting balls of fire down the backstretch," Busch said of his eventful two days. "We're having problems in our hometown -- it might be good just to get out of here and come back and try again next year."

Busch had a rocky ride Sunday because an early tire problem while he was running second sent him to pit road for an unscheduled stop. He lost his engine shortly after, causing a fire inside his Toyota. He said his Joe Gibbs Racing team has been trying to make gains in the engine department, which will make diagnosing the reason for the failure a difficult task.

"We have some sort of problem that we can get through and work around," he said. "We're trying to make the best horsepower we can to keep up with some of the other teams that we know have better horsepower than we do. The guys keep trying to find every ounce they can and unfortunately sometimes we push the limit.

"The pieces that break sometimes are smaller than your pinky fingernail. It's hard on them."

Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate, changed his engine before the race because his crew was concerned about the engine's lifespan. He finished seventh.

Meanwhile, Busch's elder brother, Kurt, also was disappointed with Sunday's race.

Kurt Busch was unhappy with his car most of the weekend, but managed a ninth-place finish that left him tied with Tony Stewart for first in the points standings. He's listed as second, though, based on tiebreaker criteria.

"We gave it all we had," he said. "We wanted to win this thing, for sure. I came up just a little bit short in my hometown."

Kurt Busch blamed anxiety for causing an early spin.

"I think I may have pushed a bit too hard early, driving the car as hard as I did," he said. "After I got loose and spun the car, I just settled into the race and tried to start picking off as many spots as I could. I'm not sure we had the winning car, but we were good enough to be top 10 and get as many points as I could."

BIG DAY FOR DALE: With his eighth-place finish, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was the highest finishing Hendrick Motorsports driver. It also gave him consecutive top-10s for the first time since last summer and moved him to 10th in the Sprint Cup standings.

Most important, it gave him confidence that he's on the road back to running for wins and that an offseason change to crew chief Steve Letarte is working.

Earnhardt ran as high as fourth during the race, but he dropped back into traffic after a late four-tire pit stop. Still, it was a major rebound after a long day of practice Friday.

"It's fun in this hauler, man," he said. "When you're running good, everything's easier to do. I really enjoy brainstorming with Steve. I think it makes me smarter, working with him."

KESELOWSKI SNUBBED: Brad Keselowski took exception to not being interviewed by ESPN after his third-place finish in the Nationwide Series race.

Keselowski was leading when a flat tire sent his car into the wall, and Mark Martin slid past him to win Saturday's race. The defending Nationwide champion complained on Twitter that he was ignored by ESPN, and that the network focused on Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish.

"I said what I meant, and I meant what I said," Keselowski said Sunday. "They just chose to focus on only a few story lines during the race, and when I got out of the car, it was clear I wasn't one of those story lines. They said they tried to find me, but I was hiding in plain sight. Nobody ever showed up to talk to me."

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