Truex JR. Wins in Vegas…Starts Chase off with a bang (9-15-19)

By: Becca Cottingham

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The first race in the Chase brings us to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We have multiple play off drivers mid pack in qualifying. While several drivers we have not heard from are up front. We start the race multiple cars wide and beating and banging for position. Daniel Suarez is racing his race and it does not matter that his teammate is in the playoffs. Kyle Busch has scrapped the wall early and they are watching him for a possible tire rub. They ended up having to bring him down pit road and it cost him one lap since they were making sure that the fenders had clearance. Cars have started settling down and more single file racing. But we are still seeing some big moves even with cars in traffic. Cars are unpredictable that are in qualifying trim. They do not know exactly what to expect plus tires are key. It is what kept Kyle Busch from going a lap down. Joey Logano made huge moves and almost half through the first stage took the lead. Green flag pit stops have to be clean and no errors by the teams or drivers. The cars are hitting at roughly 140 degrees if not more in the Las Vegas heat. Keeping the drivers hydrated will be a challenge but also key. Most have a drink system in their car, but having time to drink will be touch this race. Joey Logano made up twenty one spots to come to the front and win stage one.

We start of stage two multiple cars wide. With William Byron even making moves trying to make a run for the lead position. The big issues is Erik Jones’ car is stuck in second gear and was not moving anywhere. This is not a good start for the number twenty car. He ends up taking his car to the garage for a mechanical issue that the team is allowed to fix without being considered out of the race. There are some major battles going on throughout the entire field. The biggest question on the field is the Stewart-Haas race cars are in a heavy qualifying trim, but the track is changing already in stage two. Those cars are already falling backwards. Then we head over to another driver Denny Hamlin who is too tight and he has come across the radio to say he is terrified to turn the wheel. Kyle Busch is on some of the oldest tires due to trying to wait for a possible caution to attempt to get his lap back. Matt DiBenedetto held up traffic and allowed Martin Truex Jr to get around Joey Logano to win stage two.

Kyle Larson got hit with a penalty on pit road after one of the pit crew leaned too far over pit wall to grab a tire. So he is going to have to overcome a lot at the beginning of stage three. We start the final stage three wide all the way up against the wall to the bottom of the track. Chase Elliott cleanly took the lead but the race for the lead is still huge. Side drafting is something that is a major factor in this race. We got our first caution when William Byron spins out after a left rear went down. This brings a lot of cars down pit road and a lot of drivers only took two tires. This could be a factor, since tires have been key at this race. Major racing after the green flag came back out. Kurt Busch had a tire cut down and hit the wall hard. He is out due to something catching on fire under the car. Kurt will now be in an almost must win situation. Then Joey Logano who got some damage from Daniel Suarez at the start. Joey showed his displeasure with Daniel Suarez after he had led over a hundred laps. This has hurt his chance for a win. Joey’s team has their hands full to repair the damage and get his car sealed back off. The intensity is really racking up in stage three. They restarted and cars are three, four, even five wide trying to get through the gears. Clint Bowyer had a tire issue and they got him in before he could blow a tire. Brad Keselowski after them having the hood up under caution he is running much better. Since Kyle Busch has gotten back on the lead lap, he has found some really good speed. Passing multiple drivers at a time. As the sun has set Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. battle it out for the lead with less than twenty laps to go. Once Truex Jr got around Kevin Harvick he just took off until he got the checkered flag.