By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headed to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to kick off the annual West Coast swing in March 2017 and by the time the checkered flag flew, NASCAR was definitely the talk of the town.
Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex, Jr. started the day on the front row, with Keselowski getting the early jump over Truex, leading 65 of the first 70 laps.
Truex took over the lead at lap 76 following a restart after Kevin Harvick crashed on the frontstretch and was able to keep his Toyota out front through the end of the first stage, making it known that the win would have to go through him and the No. 78 team.
Stage two was more of the same with Truex leading the majority of the laps and taking the stage win.
As the race neared its conclusion, Keselowski was able to get back by Truex for the lead and started to pull away before the final caution of the day came out as a result of Danica Patrick blowing an engine on lap 253.
Keselowski held the advantage on the ensuing restart and looked to be well on his way to another Las Vegas win, but with two laps to go, a mechanical issue took him out of contention and Truex was able to streak back by to score the win.
“We finally got some (luck),” Truex said. “We definitely had our share of races where we’ve dominated and gave one away and it looked like today was going to be another one of those.
“The runs just didn’t work out the way we needed them. We were struggling on the really long runs. We had to run that last set of tires on that last caution longer than we did all race long. I was out of control and Brad (Keselowski) was really good on the long run. I hate that he had problems, he was strong and we weren’t going to do anything with him, but then he lost the brakes or something.
“A little bit of a gift, but we have given some away, so it feels good to come out on the good end for once.”
While Truex was celebrating his clean sweep of the race, other late race action took the main headlines that day in Sin City.
Kyle Busch looked to be on the way to a top-five finish in the race, but after last lap contact between Busch and Joey Logano, Busch went for a spin that not only left him with a bad finish at his home track, but with his tempers flaring.
As Keselowski was dropping back with a wounded car after losing the lead to Truex, Busch and Logano both dove low under Keselowski’s Ford entering Turn 3 on the last lap, nearly wrecking each other there.
However, they escaped contact at that point, but the angle of entry caused Logano’s car to wash up the track into Busch, sending Busch for a spin down across pit road, which dropped him to 22nd at the finish.
A noticeably angry Busch emerged from his No. 18 Toyota and stormed down pit road to confront Logano after the race, leading to the two drivers getting into fisticuffs before being separated by Logano’s pit crew.
Logano was the first to be pulled out of the fray unscathed, but Busch was restrained by Logano’s crew and came away with a cut on his forehead that left blood running down his face by the time all was said and done.
“There wasn’t much talking, just a lot of swinging,” said Logano. “Just racing hard there at the end with our Pennzoil Ford and Kyle and I usually race well together, usually never have any issues. He tried to pin me down into the corner underneath Brad and we about crashed on entry. I was still trying to gather it up by the center and I was going to spin out so I was trying to chase it up, but he was there. Obviously, nothing intentional, but he thinks that. I don’t know, we’ll move on.”
When asked if any of the punches thrown landed on him, Logano responded with a grin.
“None to me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Busch was still fuming as he angrily walked back toward the garage after the scuffle.
“I got dumped. Flat out just drove straight into the corner and wrecked me,” said Busch. “That’s how Joey races, so he’s going to get it.”