LAS VEGAS – Kyle Busch hit his first speed bump of the season Saturday, when he wrecked two cars and scraped the wall with another.
Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR heading into today’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the locals have made him a 4-to-1 favorite to win on his hometown track. The Sprint Cup Series points leader will start from the pole in his new Toyota, which suffered just slight damage when he bounced it off the wall Saturday in the final practice session.
It’s not expected to slow Busch, who hadn’t finished lower than fourth this season in six races spanning three series entering Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. A blown right front tire sent him crashing into the wall in that race, ending his impressive run.
But an otherwise torrid start to the season has the industry abuzz, with many marveling at the 22-year-old’s talent.
Busch dominated the early parts of the season-opening Daytona 500 before mounting a frantic final charge that was so dizzying, teammate Tony Stewart complained he had motion sickness from watching Busch slice through the field.
He came up short, finishing fourth, then added another fourth-place finish in Monday’s rain-postponed event in California. It was good enough to push him into the points lead for the first time in his career, but Busch wants a win. His only victory this season came in last week’s Truck Series race.
A win in Vegas would make history: No driver has won from the pole since Cup racing began here in 1998.
“It’s pretty special to be on pole at my home track,” he said. “It’ll be even better in Victory Lane at the end of 400 miles.”
Except for his mishaps Saturday, everything Busch has done so far this season has been pretty special.
In addition to his spot atop the Cup standings, Busch is leading the Truck Series points and headed into Saturday’s Nationwide race trailing only Stewart in the standings. When he knocked Carl Edwards off the pole, last week’s race winner could only shrug.
“I couldn’t run the lap he ran if I tried 100 times,” Edwards said. “He’s just a great driver. It’s pretty wild to see the success he’s had. He’s doing very well.”
Martin gets victory
Mark Martin took Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Victory Lane by winning the Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, then immediately apologized for an accident he started in the closing laps.
Martin, the winningest driver in NASCAR’s No. 2 series, raced to the 48th victory of his career in a car owned by Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports. But the win came at the expense of Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, who races full-time for Earnhardt.
Edwards and Keselowski were racing side-by-side in the final round when Martin quickly closed in on Edwards’ bumper. Slight contact sent Edwards’ car wiggling across the track, and he slid high directly into Keselowski to wreck both cars.