Several drivers battled through adversity to post solid finishes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch was a contender in the early stages of the race before he was assessed a speeding penalty on Lap 46. The setback fired the driver up after his pass-through penalty when he restarted 19th and worked his way up to 12th by the Lap 71 restart. He regained his dominant form of the early laps, leading a total of five times for 27 laps en route to a fourth-place finish.
Busch’s first top-five finish of the season elevated his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team to 17th in the points standings, a gain of 16 positions.
“We had a good run today," Busch said. "I made a mistake and got us mired back in traffic, but we fought hard and we battled back up through there. The biggest thing we take out is we’ve got to figure out how we can make these race cars last longer on the long runs for me. (Winner Matt) Kenseth there was pretty good and he stayed good throughout the long run, but me — we went to hell in a hand basket there after a minute.”
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski overcame a flat tire and a loose lug nut on his Lap-161 pit stop. Keselowski restarted 13th but was able to move up and salvage a third-place finish. Keselowski, who trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by five markers, is the only driver to finish all of the first three races of the season in the top five.
“Never, ever give up,” Keselowski said. “Never give up. This team doesn’t and we didn’t today. You get a good run like we did and that is a product of that effort. I thought we had some really good speed there at the end. I almost want another yellow to race the 5 (of Kasey Kahne) and the 20 (of Kenseth). Matt did a great job executing the restarts really well. We were so close.”