AJ Allmendinger won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Allmendinger took the race lead on a restart with 13 laps to go in the race and pulled away to win.
For Allmendinger, Saturday’s victory marks his sixth Xfinity career win and his second win on an oval.
Driver No. 16 led 44 of the 200 lap race.
Rounding out the top five were Daniel Hemric in second, Brandon Jones in third, Austin Cindric in fourth and Noah Gragson in fifth.
Daniel Hemric, who finished in second led a race-high 74 laps, finishing runner-up for the eighth time in his career.
Rounding out the top ten were Michael Annett in sixth, Josh Berry in seventh, Justin Haley in eighth, Harrison Burton in ninth and Jeb Burton in tenth.
Austin Cindric currently leads the Xfinity standings after four races with 191 points. Daniel Hemric is second with 170 points, Brandon Jones is third with 140 points, Jeb Burton is fourth with 133 points and Justin Haley is fifth with 128 points.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head into Phoenix Raceway at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on March 13 with coverage on FS1.
Stage 1 Winner: Austin Cindric
Stage 2 Winner: Daniel Hemric
Race Winner: AJ Allmendinger
Chase Briscoe won Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race was postponed after Lap 51 on Saturday due to rain and rescheduled for Sunday one hour following the NASCAR Cup Series race.
Briscoe led 89 laps in route to his victory on Sunday.
“That was really a team win,” Briscoe told FS1 post-race. “We were really good, then as soon as the sun went down when we were in the dirty air, we just weren’t really good. In clean air obviously there at the end we were really good. This is something I feel we can do all year long.”
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver beat out second place Austin Cindric by nearly three seconds to claim his third career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
Rounding out the top five were Austin Cindric in second, Ryan Sieg in third, Noah Gragson in fourth and Harrison Burton in fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Brandon Jones in sixth, Michael Annett in seventh, Justin Allgaier in eighth, Riley Herbst in ninth and Ross Chastain in tenth. Chastain, who ran in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race filling in for Ryan Newman had to go directly from Newman’s car to his full-time Xfinity Series ride.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head into Auto Club Speedway in the running of the Production Alliance Group 300 on Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Briscoe
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier
Race Winner: Chase Briscoe
Kyle Busch Dominates in Las Vegas
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag at the Strat 200 in Las Vegas after a dominating performance.
After starting third, Busch took the lead on lap 11 and held off Christian Eckes to win Stage 1 followed by Johnny Sauter, Tyler Ankrum and Austin Hill.
Busch struggled on restarts, but his No. 51 Toyota was great on the long run. Eckes took the lead when the green flag waved on Stage 2. After 15 laps, Busch was able to pull to the rear of Eckes and make a run. He pulled away to get another stage win. Eckes, Chastain, Enfinger and Crafton rounded out the top 5 to earn stage points.
When the green flag waves on Stage 3, Busch maintains the lead ahead of Todd Gilliland. As the laps wound down, the battle for positions heated up. Christian Eckes made contact with the wall after getting a flat right front to bring out a caution. Kyle Busch maintains the lead over Sheldon Creed on after the restart.
With 46 to go, Raphael Lessard and Grant Enfinger made contact with the wall to bring out the caution flag. The battle between Busch and Creed continued to heat up after the restart. They remained side by side with 35 laps to go until Creed got loose and fell to sixth. Busch takes the lead with Sauter in line behind him.
Busch pulled away and maintained a 5.958 second lead over Sauter. Johnny Sauter, Austin Hill, Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top 5.
“It was the first win for Danny Stockman at KBM, and it’s cool to have him on board. My guys worked their butts off. We unloaded and we really weren’t that close. We worked on it a lot with this new tire, and we got it a lot better."
Friday night's victory was Kyle Busch's seventh win in his last seven starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and his third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will be back in action for the Ultimate Tailgating 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 14 at 1:30 p.m. on FS1.
Analysis: 2017 MENCS Low Downforce Package
Since 2015, NASCAR has looked at making the racing product better in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. NASCAR tested a lower downforce package at Kentucky and Darlington due to pleas from drivers, while NASCAR chose to use a higher drag package at Michigan and Indianapolis to try things their way.
After much consideration, NASCAR chose to go the way the drivers wanted, a lower downforce package. From 2015 to 2016, NASCAR reduced downforce from 2,700 pounds to 2,000 pounds.
In 2016, NASCAR tested an even lower downforce package at Kentucky and Michigan. After a few minor tweaks, downforce was reduced by 500 pounds.
Has this reduction of downforce made the racing in 2017 better? Let’s take a look at the first seven races of the season! The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has went to every style of racetrack from a superspeedway to a short track and from an old abrasive surface and a newly repaved surface.
The numbers are rather shocking.
The number of green flag passes at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2016 was 3,717. In 2017, that number was 2,811. That is a difference of 27.7574%.
In 2016, the number of green flag passes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was 2210. In 2017, the number was 1,927. A difference of 3.6814%
In 2016, the number of green flag passes at Phoenix Raceway was 686. In 2017, the number was 1,026. The number of green flag passes was up by 39.7196%.
In 2016, the number of green flag passes at Auto Club Speedway was 3,346. In 2017, that number was 2,707. A difference of 21.1135%.
In 2016, the number of green flag passes at Martinsville Speedway was 1,207. In 2017, that number was 1,725. The number of passes was up 35.3342%.
In 2016, the number of green flag passes at Texas Motor Speedway, under the old pavement and configuration, was 2,733. In 2017, under the new pavement and configuration, the number of passes was 1,894. The difference is 36.2654%.
Early on in the season the eyeball test showed some issues within this package. Speedway Digest asked Denny Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger what they would change based on the eyeball test and numbers.
“I would just like them to stop changing stuff. It’s tough on us. I thought way at the end of last year I think we had six top 10’s in eight races and we had finally kind of gotten a feel of the aero package of what we needed and had some good race cars when it came to set-up and knowing how we wanted to set them up and they keep changing. I think that is what’s tough here,” said Allmendinger. “Right away we all jump to conclusions that ‘oh it’s not good enough we’ve got to change again.’ You’ve just got to give teams time. The bigger teams, every time you change an aero package the bigger teams are going to succeed in that because they have the wind tunnel time. You would think it would bring the field closer everybody starting over again, well it just separates the field even more because the bigger teams have the more resources to go wind tunnel test and figure out the aero package a lot quicker than other teams do. It’s five races, we all just need to calm down a little bit and give it a whole year and see if it’s working or not and then make a decision after that, but we don’t need to jump to that conclusion after five races.”
Hamlin, who is a member of the Driver’s Council, had this to say about the aero package in 2017 and what changes he would advocate for.
"Well, I think we've had a relatively small sample size. I think that we've had probably fewer cautions than what we've had in the past, and that doesn't help the passes, the green flag passes, because you have jumbling up on pit road, faster cars have a bad pit stop, they've got to come back through the field, so that part of it hampers passing a little bit. It would be interesting to revisit that probably mid to later in the season,” said Hamlin. “But I think overall, the racing itself has been very, very good. We've seen battles for the lead every single week. So overall, we've been pretty happy with it. Corner speeds are down, which is good. That's something that we wanted. There's been more tire falloff this year, which has been good. That's what we wanted. So I think we're heading in a good direction. But early in seasons, there's some teams that are on top right now that are very hot and their cars are fast, and it's going to take a while for the competition to catch up. When they catch up, fields get tighter, more passing happens."
At this point in 2016, there were talks about a lower downforce aero package being used at the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, in 2017, the rumor mill has been silent about potential changes in the aero package.
Stewart-Haas Struggles at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, N.v.— When it rains, it usually pours for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).This was the case this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Kobalt 400.
In the first two races of the season at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, SHR showed that their switch to Ford was not a hinderance as they showed the upper hand by winning the Daytona 500 and dominating the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
The organization, as a whole, seemed to struggle throughout the weekend, especially during the race.
Kevin Harvick’s day was the first to end of the SHR stable. Harvick only completed 68 circuits. Harvick cut a tire and made hard contact with the outside wall on the front stretch.
“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. Obviously, it didn’t make it. The worst part was the medical response,” said Harvick after the accident. “It took them forever to get to the car. All in all, our Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford was running good. We were just too loose right there. It’s not like we were even tight, so it either just cut the tire, or came apart or melted the bead.”
Harvick finished in the 39th position, only scoring one point to his championship tptal and no playoff points. Harvick currently sits eighth in points 41 points away from the points leader, Brad Keselowski.
Danica Patrick has a so-so day in Las Vegas. The team was forced to change the gearbox on Saturday, resulting in the team starting from the rear of the field on Sunday. In the opening stage of the race, Patrick was having trouble on entry and exit in the corners. She finished 29th in the first stage. In the second stage, Patrick climbed into the top-20 before pit stops sat her back. She finished 28th in the second stage. In the third stage, the day went from so-so to worse for Patrick. Patrick was two laps down. She pitted under the green flag cycling her out of the top-30. She worked her way into the top-30 before she suffered mechanical woes and went to the garage.
“It was another day where my Aspen Dental Ford team worked hard to get me better throughout the race. There late in the race, we finally got the car to a place where I think we could have got a little more racy with it, especially if we would have caught some breaks, but then it just flattened out. I just rode around the top in case something happened. Unfortunately, it did and having a teammate behind me was not ideal for the timing of it. We’ll just move on to Phoenix and see if we can keep improving,” said Patrick.
Patrick finished 36th at Las Vegas, scoring only one point. She currently sits 30th in the points standing, 95 points behind Keselowski.
Kurt Busch was the third driver from the SHR stable to experience trouble. Busch started the opening stage in the 17th position, but worked his way into the top-10. However, he was battling a loose handling car that resulted in him finishing 12th in this stage. The second stage of the Kobalt 400 is where Busch began to see problems. Busch began to experience battery issues that resulted in everything except the gear fan to be turned off. The team told Busch to stay out until the second battery died. Busch would use the first battery to work his way back to pit road on lap 201. Busch lost four laps on pit road as the team changed the batteries resulting in a 30th place finish.
“We went through a lot today. Obviously it wasn’t the day we were hoping to have with our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion,” Busch stated. “We didn’t have the long-run speed or the balance, and we had an electrical issue that forced us to change batteries on pit road. We kept battling, we didn’t give up. I hoped to have a better run here in front of the hometown fans.”
Busch currently sits seventh in the points standings only 39 points away from Keselowski.
Clint Bowyer had the best day out of the SHR stable in Las Vegas. Bowyer was running strong in the first stage until he went down pit road under the lap 19 caution period. Bowyer lost several spots on the pit lane due to a slower car. Bowyer finished 19th in the first stage. In the second stage, Bowyer battled loose conditions, but battled to finish 14th. In the third stage, Bowyer found himself running the same lap-times as drivers in the top-six. Bowyer ended up finishing the race running in the 10th position.
“It was a struggle. To be truthful, we weren’t the best all weekend, but we just kept digging. Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) didn’t give up on the box and kept adjusting on it and got me pretty good, the best we’d been right there at the end. It’s a top-10 and gives us some momentum. It’s our third race together and we got a top-10, so we’ve got to keep digging,” said Bowyer.
Bowyer currently sits 12th in the points standings, 59 points back from Keselowski.
Despite the struggles over the weekend at Las Vegas, SHR hopes to rebound and recover at Phoenix International Raceway in the Camping World 500, the second race of NASCAR’s “West Coast Swing”.