The one-and-a-half mile track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a test for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ new aero package. Nobody knew what to expect racing-wise. However, everyone had a hunch that it would be interesting.
A huge chunk of the race involved green-flag runs, yet it was full of side-by-side action. Though consistently interesting, the racing did leave something to be desired. Something like a twist.
Three twists occurred, and they were equally tricky:
Kevin Harvick suffered from a left front hub issue while leading. Before the incident, it was looking like the No. 4 was headed to Victory Lane for the second weekend in a row, strengthening its presence in the garage yet again. However, the problem struck, sending Harvick to the garage. He finished 41st.
Third place was claimed by an unfamiliar face. Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 for Richard Childress Racing, strutted his stuff and impressed many. Interestingly, the driver required a stand-by this weekend. Why? Menard’s wife is pregnant with their first child, and she was due to give birth this weekend. Good news, he didn’t miss the birth and earned third place. Bad news, we have to wait to hear news about Baby Menard’s arrival.
The third twist came late in the event, but it was a huge loop. Strategy was the name of the game at the Kobalt 400, and it came down to fuel mileage. There are two crew chiefs who are amazing at stretching fuel windows: Steve Letarte and Paul Wolfe. Their drivers were there at the end, battling for the lead. As the laps died down. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had his sights set on grabbed that second victory, yet Brad Keselowski was on his heels.
It came down to the last lap, and, before he could reach the checkered flag, Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel. He shimmied backwards, and the No. 2 shot past, stealing the win and practically securing a spot in The Chase. Sunday’s win helped him complete the weekend’s sweep after grabbing the trophy on Saturday afternoon.
Point Standings after the Kobalt 400
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (–)
2. Brad Keselowski (-1)
3. Jimmie Johnson (-16)
4. Joey Logano (-17)
5. Jeff Gordon (-18)
6. Carl Edwards (-28)
6. Matt Kenseth (-28)
8. Denny Hamlin (-32)
9. Ryan Newman (-36)
10. Kyle Busch (-38)
11. Jamie McMurray (-40)
12. Greg Biffle (-47)
13. Austin Dillon (-49)
14. Kevin Harvick (-50)
15. Kasey Kahne (-53)
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-53)
FAN REACTION: Some fans didn’t watch the event, yet the consensus was “eh.” Fans of the No. 88 were understandably upset. However, it’s easy to see that winning is the main priority of the drivers and their fans. Second won’t do anymore.
Next week brings Bristol Motor Speedway, the coliseum of NASCAR tracks. Another chance to press your luck and tempt fate is just around the corner.