Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Martin Truex Jr. Quiet Despite Racing on 2017 Playing Ground
Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 seemed like a perfect event for Martin Truex Jr. to win for the single-car Furniture Row Racing team: fourth-place starting spot on a 1.5-mile track in the race he won one year ago.
However, a win was not in the cards for the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. Kevin Harvick was just too darn good, leading 214 of 267 laps and annihilating the field for the second straight race in 2018.
Truex managed to finish where he started in fourth after battling the Team Penske Fords for much of the day in the top five. But it was still an odd sight to see 2017’s 1.5-mile dominator struggling to find the power to pass across 400 miles.
Put in perspective, Sunday was the first time Truex finished worse than second on a 1.5-mile track since last year’s Coca-Cola 600; that was six straight top-two finishes entering Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We did have a lot to overcome,” Truex said. “Track position was the name of the game. Really, really hard to pass. We had a couple issues on pit road. Just a tough day, we battled back for a good result.”
For the first time in quite some time, Truex and crew have some “work to do” to catch a competitor moving forward.
“The [No.4] was pretty much in his own zip code again,” he said. “That’s two weeks in a row.” – Zach Catanzareti
XFINITY Series: Kyle Larson Hits Jackpot in Sin City
Kyle Larson didn’t have a perfect race in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300, but it was pretty darn close
The No. 42 machine started alongside Christopher Bell on the front row, and it didn’t take Larson long to jump to the top of the scoring pylon. The two drivers put on a show at the end of the first stage, reminiscent of their battle in the Chili Bowl earlier this season. This time, Bell wound up on top.
For the remaining two stages Larson didn’t look back, though he had to overcome adversity late in the race to pick up his first victory in Sin City.
A race that looked like it would come down to fuel mileage was put to an abrupt halt when Ryan Reed got into the wall with 16 laps to go. Realistically, that saved Larson, as it was highly doubtful he saved enough gas during the course of the run. On the final restart, the No. 42 passed Tyler Reddick, easing his way to Victory Lane. – Dustin Albino
Camping World Truck Series: Kyle Busch Scores Hometown Win in Las Vegas
In just his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch scored his 50th career win. Busch started on the pole and led six times for a race-high 55 laps, all while also engaging in side-by-side battles with drivers like Stewart Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Brett Moffit and Myatt Snider, to name a few.
“It means a lot, we’ve had some great runs in the races that we’ve had at Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Busch said. “We’ve raced and won all across the country, but I’ve just never been able to get back to Las Vegas to run a race. This one’s pretty cool to be able to win in the hometown and finish my list of Truck Series facilities that I’ve raced at and I’ve won at. I was glad that we were able to score the victory for our team.”
The victory puts him just one race shy of the all-time wins record currently held by Ron Hornaday Jr. In 142 career Truck Series starts, Busch has amounted 50 wins, 111 top 10 and has led an astounding 6,353 circuits. He has three more starts scheduled this season and has a fairly decent chance of snagging his 51st win before the end of 2018. – Beth Lunkenheimer
Sports Cars: North American GT3 Car Count a Pressing Concern
In North America, there are two divisions that race GT3-spec cars: the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class and Pirelli World Challenge’s GT class. The GT class is further split into professional and amateur divisions. The amateur division, known as GTA, races at the same time as the professional GT drivers but has a separate points system.
As in many racing series, car count is an ever-present issue. The past few years have seen a number of either outright factory efforts or strongly factory-supported efforts, which is not necessarily within the spirit of the class. For 2018, the factories are stepping away from outright bankrolling race teams in the two classes, resulting in a decreased number of entries.
In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a couple of teams have had to cut back to a degree. Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian has cut back to one full-time Acura program and is currently trying to find funding that would allow it to race the No. 86 full-time. 3GT Racing is still full-time with its two Lexuses, but the team had to make driver changes in order to get more funding. Meanwhile, factory involvement in Pirelli World Challenge’s GT class has been a constant since before GT3-spec even existed.
The disappearance of a number of notable teams will be quite noticeable this upcoming weekend when Pirelli World Challenge begins its season in St. Petersburg. Last year, there were 23 GT/GTA entries at St. Petersburg. This year, there are only 12, and only six of those 12 were entered last year.
Will the car count in PWC’s top class remain this low all season? That remains to be seen. – Phil Allaway