The Final Word – Las Vegas came with some distractions, and not all of them were in Nevada

It was a rainy, blowy kind of Sunday, and that was just in these parts where I live. With a few errands to run, we had Sirius Channel 90 on the car radio so we did not miss the action. Due to the rainy, blowy kind of Sunday at Las Vegas, we did not.

Rarely do I watch the action live, but we were visiting my father, as the ladies in the family took care of packing up some of my late mother’s things. We gentleman were in front of the television. We also talked a lot. Did I mention our three and five year old nieces were there, the precocious pair being cuteness personified? Under those kind of conditions, one can miss some of the action, so with less than 30 laps to go it appeared we were seeing Kyle Busch rushing toward the finish. Then my sister came into the room, and our attention was further strained. When they waved the flag, it was Brad Keselowski taking the trophy. Okay, what in hell happened? Luckily for me, I taped the race, so an answer would be forthcoming.

I guess we failed to notice Keselowski make the pass with about six laps to go. It appears Busch was experiencing some vibration that only got worse, tightening the car and affecting his ability to turn. That is usually something one wishes to do when racing on an oval. Down to the final lap, Joey Logano made his pass for second. At the line, Jimmie Johnson edged out Busch for third. At least Kyle was the best Busch brother on the day.

Kurt Busch started strong, leading for 31 laps. A pit penalty while under the competition caution took him out of the running for top spot, and he never contended again. Still, ninth is not bad. Denny Hamlin actually led for a few laps. Ten, to be exact, but 19th was his fate.

Only five other drivers really mattered in Las Vegas. Keselowski popped in and out of the Top Three much of the day before he made his final charge. His car proved good enough to overcome a speeding penalty with 80 to go, needing just half of that to get back into contention, going on to claim his 18th career victory. The high winds on the day actually whipped the Stars and Stripes out of the car during the post-race celebration, though the young patriot immediately stopped the car to retrieve the fallen flag. Not exactly Denzil Washington’s scene in Glory, but much appreciated just the same.

Just about everyone else who mattered were also there at the finish. Logano had led 70 laps, Johnson 76, and Kyle 38 of the final 44 laps, but those missing six were the most crucial. There was one exception.

Matt Kenseth only led nine, but he was up front much of the day. A vibration caused him to short pit about 60 laps in, but it did not take him long to get back into the mix. Late in the race, just before my sister came into the room, Kenseth was fifth on a re-start. A lap later, he lost the handling as his car drifted up toward the fence, where Chase Elliott smashed into him to wrap up the day for both. The only one who did not think Elliott could not have avoided the crash was Elliott himself, who thought things would have turned out differently if he had only used his brakes. The pair finished just ahead of Cole Whitt for dead last.

As for the Danica Line this week, it was 21st Sunday at Las Vegas, with Greg Biffle finishing just ahead while Clint Bowyer finished just behind her. Despite all the wishin’ and a hopin’, Patrick is still not a Top 20 performer. She sits 26th in today’s rankings, though that is better than Elliott and Bowyer heading into Phoenix this weekend.

Three races, three winners. Last year, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was the victor in Arizona. Mind you, five of the previous six races run there were all claimed by Kevin Harvick. I think we have a favorite.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. Listen to Chase again. When you lock the brakes up you slide, Chase said if he had not used the brakes he might have been able to turn under sneaky Matt thus avoiding sliding into him. Thought everyone knew that if you lock the brakes up it’s over, you slide with no control anymore.
    That bubba guy in the xfinity race was the weekends idiot. He had 5 seconds to miss the wrecking car in front of him but somehow he didn’t even see the car sitting there and slid right into the guy. Talk about a big duhhhh moment and then when interviewed he still didn’t get that he should have missed the wreck completly had he beeen paying attention just even a little bit.


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