Mar. 20, 2017
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Kobalt 500
Welcome to the Las Vegas Buffet edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This is the place where we have something for everyone, and it especially holds true this week. Sit back, pile your plate to the brim, and enjoy!
Martin Truex, Jr.: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. He was dominant, becoming the first driver to win all three stages. He passed Brad Keselowski with two laps remaining and slowly pulled away from the field. Congratulations on the win, Martin!
Kyle Larson: once again, another runner-up finish. He had the second-best car in the field, so this runner-up finish was nothing to sneeze at. Truex was so dominant that everyone else was running for second place.
Chase Elliott: another very solid showing for the young Hendrick Motorsports driver. He didn't beat himself and didn't overdrive the car, something a lot of young drivers do and end up in disaster. Even though he's only 20, he drives with the wisdom and maturity of a driver twice his age. The wins will come, and soon.
Penske Racing: Joey Logano and Keselowski round out the top 5, Logano beating his teammate for fourth in a photo finish. (More on Logano later.)
Honorable Mention: Michael McDowell. He finishes 18th, his best finish at LVMS.
Austin Dillon: he uncharacteristically couldn't find speed throughout the race and fell off the pace early and couldn't recover.
Stewart-Haas Racing: two of their drivers exited the race early--Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick. Harvick blew a tire late in Stage 1 and hit the wall hard. He finished 38th. Patrick's engine expired late in the race to bring out the final caution. She finished 36th. Even Kurt Busch wasn't immune: he had a battery go down and ended up finishing 30th. Only Clint Bowyer had a good day, finishing 10th, and carried the banner for SHR.
Kyle Busch: someone from his crew should have talked some sense (and calm) into him before Busch went to fight Logano AND his entire pit crew. Logano got loose underneath Busch as the two were battling for position on the final two turns of the race. Busch got turned and spun onto pit road. It was an unfortunate racing incident; Logano had no intention of spinning out Busch. He was wanting to finish ahead of his competitor. Busch was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Busch had come a long way towards getting away from the whiny bad boy image he'd been associated with. Incidents like this only serve to refresh that image in the public's mind. (I would understand Busch's anger and frustration had Logano been laps down and spun him out.) Hopefully he'll learn from this incident how to handle similar incidents better. It's unfortunate that Busch went from a possible top 5 finish to finishing 22nd.
That's my analysis for this race. Feel free to comment on how you saw the race. (Above photo provided by USA Today/Getty Images.)