The NASCAR Cup Series drivers headed to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 5, for practice and qualifying. Kyle Busch posted the 12th-fastest lap, but a tire issue sent him into the wall and put his crew in a difficult position.
The incident occurred after Busch completed nine laps around the 1.5-mile track. His left rear tire went down and sent him into a slide. The rear of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry slammed into the wall and sustained too much damage, forcing the team to go to the backup car.
The FOX Sports broadcast provided a look at the backup while Mike Joy provided some troubling information for JGR fans. The stock car had no wrap on it, and the rear window featured Denny Hamlin’s name. Joy explained that the organization planned to use this vehicle as a parts car during the west coast swing, giving all four JGR crews the ability to take what they need. It was nowhere near ready to hit the track.
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With Busch hitting the wall, the situation changed. His crew had to spend all of March 5 working at a frantic pace to get the backup car ready in time for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on March 6 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX).
The Backup Car Will Hurt Busch’s Starting Position
With Busch having to use a backup car for the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he will automatically drop to the rear of the field. This will mark a major change from the two-time champion’s history at the Nevada track.
Busch has made 21 Cup Series starts at his hometown track with one trip to Victory Lane. He started on the pole for the 2009 race and led 51 laps en route to his first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also had eight other top-five finishes in his career.
While Busch has only won one Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he has remained consistent in terms of starting position. He has only started outside of the top 20 three times, and he hasn’t dropped to the rear of the pack for a Cup Series race at his hometown track. This streak will end, however, when he climbs into the backup car.
Multiple Other Drivers Failed Inspection
There were multiple other drivers that deal with some issues at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, albeit in a different manner. Five drivers failed pre-race inspection two times each and lost a crew member for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube.
According to a release from NASCAR, the No. 4 team of Kevin Harvick will not have car chief Robert Smith for the Cup Series race due to an ejection. The No. 9 team of Chase Elliott will lose car chief Matt Barndt, the No. 21 team of Harrison Burton will lose car chief Cody Sauls, and the No. 38 team of Todd Gilliland will lose car chief Tony Manzer.
The No. 77 team of Josh Bilicki rounds out the list of failed inspections. The team will lose engineer Nicholas Sowa. NASCAR also noted that no vehicles failed inspection three times, so they will all be able to post a qualifying lap. However, all of the entries that failed twice lose their pit selection.