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Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Dominates Vegas for 2nd Consecutive Win

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch dominated the Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday night, taking the checkered flag just over one second ahead of runner-up Brett Moffitt. The owner/driver started on the pole with a track-record speed and led 111 of 134 laps en route to his 53rd career victory. Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen and Harrison Burton rounded out the top five.

Sheldon Creed, who spun in the middle of a three-wide battle early to bring out the only non-stage caution, recovered to a sixth-place finish, his best result of the season.

Just a week removed from hearing his boss say his “career is on the line” and “he’s got to show up this year and make it happen,” Todd Gilliland finished a solid seventh, his second consecutive top 10. Johnny Sauter, Ryan Reed and Ross Chastain rounded out the top 10.

Who Should Have Won: Busch. He had the speed in qualifying and backed it up with a record-setting run for the pole. Despite losing the lead on pit road at the conclusion of the first stage, Busch worked his way to the front to take the second stage and only relinquished the lead again while making a green-flag pit stop late in stage three. Only Moffitt and Friesen looked like they had anything able to challenge Busch, but the No. 51 Toyota ultimately proved to be too strong to beat.

Race Rundown

Brett Moffitt Recovers to Finish 2nd After Pit Road Mishap

As stage one came to a close, Brett Moffitt attempted to run down eventual winner Kyle Busch but didn’t quite have enough speed. Under the stage caution, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a miserably long pit stop when his rear tire changer’s air hose got caught under the right rear tire.

The lengthy delay on pit road cost Moffitt a ton of track position and he was only able to recover to 10th by the time the end of stage two rolled around. He had enough speed in the truck to work his way through the field in stage three, and a late-race green-flag pitstop four laps earlier than Busch allowed Moffitt to close the leader’s gap.

Moffitt got a good shot to run at Busch for the lead but got loose as he got close to the back bumper of the No. 51 Toyota and faded back to around a one-second deficit by the time the checkered flag flew.

Ryan Reed Scores Quiet Top 10 in Truck Series Return

Ryan Reed, who started the 2019 season without a ride after losing primary sponsor Lilly Diabetes, made his first Truck Series start since 2012 in Las Vegas Friday night. After starting 10th, he hovered right around the top 10 for much of the night before taking the checkered flag in ninth.

“Overall, I had so much fun being back in the race truck. We had a fast Toyota Tundra all night,” Reed explained. “We lost some track position early. Just kind of battled to get that back all night but felt like we had a top-five Tundra but I had a lot to learn about how to manipulate the air. It’s a lot different than what you have in the Xfinity deal.

“I think everyone at DGR-Crosley is really talented. They have all the right pieces. They will keep getting better. I hope we can do more together because there are opportunities to have some really good runs and contend for wins if we can have more time to gel. If we get the opportunity to do more, it would be so awesome.

“Thankful for Dexcom. We wouldn’t be here without their support. But their technology allows me to get into the race car and do what I do each and every week. And to be able to monitor my blood sugar during the race. Just a really fun weekend and good to be back in the race track.”

As of press time, the race behind the wheel of the No. 17 for DGR-Crosley is a one-time deal, though Reed did say he has “opportunities and irons in the fire.”

“Hopefully they can come together and maybe some more stuff this year, and maybe a full-time gig in 2020,” he explained. “Right now, I do as much as I can this year and work back towards something full-time in another series. Nothing would make me happier than being back in a DGR-Crosley Tundra. Wherever the tide takes me.”

Quick Hits:

  • Kyle Busch’s victory marked the first for crew chief Rudy Fugle at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Heading into Friday night’s race LVMS stood as the only mile-and-a-half track Fugle had yet to find Victory Lane at. The win marked the 24th for the crew chief and notched the 15th track off of the list.
  • When Sheldon Creed spun early in stage one, Matt Crafton managed to avoid running into the No. 2 Chevrolet, only to get slammed into from behind. The resulting rear-end damage should have ended Crafton’s hopes for a solid run, but instead, he recovered for an impressive third-place finish. It makes you wonder what he could have done without the damage to the truck.

  • After a pair of tough races at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, Natalie Decker had a quiet, uneventful race in Las Vegas. Decker was quite complimentary of her truck during qualifying after posting a 12th-place lap. And while a 13th-place finish may not be much to write home about, for Decker, simply finishing the race without being in the spotlight for spinning or wrecking is a step in the right direction for the rookie.
  • Cory Roper posted a career-best qualifying effort of fifth for Friday night’s race in Las Vegas, but the happiness was short-lived for the driver of the No. 04. With nowhere to go when Creed spun early, Roper slammed into the back of Matt Crafton. Though he was able to continue, the damage to the truck was too severe, and Roper finished 24th, seven laps down.
  • Stefan Parsons made just his third career start Friday night and the first of the 2019 season for Beaver Motorsports. The organization withdrew from the first two events of the year before making it to Las Vegas. The driver of the No. 1 was forced to make multiple unscheduled pit stops in a race that ended after he’d completed just 67 laps. He finished 31st after retiring with carburetor problems.
  • Coming into Las Vegas, Grant Enfinger was the only driver who had finished inside the top five in both of the series first two events. When the team was forced to change the motor on Thursday (Feb. 28) between practice sessions, the driver of the No. 98 Ford had to start at the rear of the field despite qualifying fourth. A loose truck and motor woes continued for Enfinger during the race, but even with those issues he faced, he recovered to an 11th-place finish.

  • While running inside the top 10, Daytona winner Austin Hill suffered a major overheating issue and was forced down pit road so the team could remove tape from the nose and cycle water through the motor. Unfortunately, the problem forced the driver of the No. 16 Toyota behind the wall and ultimately out of the race with a disappointing 30th-place finish.

2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates:

No. 02 – Tyler Dippel
No. 2 – Sheldon Creed
No. 12 – Gus Dean
No. 17 – Anthony Alfredo
No. 18 – Harrison Burton
No. 54 – Natalie Decker

Number of Rookies in the Race: 6

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 2; Harrison Burton, finished fifth; Sheldon Creed, finished sixth

Rookie of the Race: Burton

Up Next: The Gander Outdoors Truck Series takes a couple of weeks off before heading to Martinsville Speedway Saturday, March 23. Race coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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