By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
There were varying strategies at the conclusion of Stage 1 of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas.
A caution with 10 laps remaining in the stage gave the field an opportunity to pit for tires and fuel before the break for Stage 2. However, Joey Logano (third spot at the time of the caution) and Jamie McMurray (11th at the time of the caution) opted to roll the dice and stay on the track in hopes that they could gain championship points.
When the green flag came back out with six laps left in the Stage, Logano was a sitting duck. The field knifed high and low on Logano, and Logano dropped like a rock to 19th by the end of the Stage. McMurray on the other hand was able to hang on for a fifth place spot in the Stage.
Martin Truex Jr., who had ran second for the majority of Stage 1, pulled past Logano and set sail for the Stage win. This will give Truex a Playoff point, which will carry through every round of the playoffs later this season. Truex also gains 10 regular season championship points for the Stage win.
Other drivers scoring championship points in the round included: Kyle Larson (9), Ryan Blaney (8), Brad Keselowski (7), Jamie McMurray (6), Chase Elliott (5), Kyle Busch (4), Jimmie Johnson (3), Matt Kenseth (2) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1).
What set up the strategic finish to Stage 1 was a crash by the point leader entering the day, Kevin Harvick.
Harvick was running sixth on lap 69, when his right front tire blew on the frontstretch. Harvick slammed hard into the outside wall, which ended his day. Harvick was more upset with the slow response by NASCAR’s new travelling safety team than he was the crash itself.
“It started vibrating about four or five laps there before it blew out, and I was just trying to ride it to the end of the stage there,” Harvick explained after exiting the infield care center. “Obviously, it didn’t make it. The worst part was the medical response. It took them forever to get to the car. I thought we made that better, but obviously we haven’t.”
Harvick will finish the day 38th in the 39 car field, and he will take a huge hit in the championship standings.