By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
LAS VEGAS — Kyle Busch hadn’t won a race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway mainly because his schedule wouldn’t allow the opportunity.
On Friday night, the hometown driver grabbed the checkered flag and closed in on another record.
Busch held off a hard-charging Johnny Sauter in the closing laps and won the Stratosphere 200 for his 50th career win in NASCAR’s third-tier series. The driver of the No. 51 Cessna Toyota moved within one win of tying Hall of Famer Ron Hornanday at the top of the career victory list.
It also gave Busch — who qualified on the pole and led a race-high 55 laps — his missing piece of the track trifecta at the 1.5-mile oval in only his second career start in the trucks.
“It was kind of ironic it went in descending order for me — Cup, XFINITY, and now truck,” Busch said. “It was an intense race, that’s for sure. There were times when you had to back up to the guy behind you so he could push you forward and give you momentum to pass the next guy in front of you.
“It’s hard to pass for the lead with nobody else around you, and I couldn’t get a big enough run to get to the lead. It was interesting the way that was going on and what was going on behind us.”
Brett Moffitt — who won last week’s race at Atlanta — led 27 laps and kept Busch at bay until getting caught up in lap traffic and rallying to finish third.
“I’ve never been so mad finishing third in my life,” Moffitt said. “It’s silly to have lapped cars going that slow, running two wide, and we’re 30 mph faster and catching them in a pack. It’s uncalled for, and someone’s going to get hurt.”
Sauter didn’t lead a lap Friday night, but continued his strong start to the 2018 season after a win at Daytona and third-place run at Atlanta.
“There was a lot of action from where I was at,” Sauter said. “I couldn’t get going on restarts. When the green flag dropped, I’d get shuffled back to eighth, ninth, 10th, so I had to pick them off one by one. I passed a lot of trucks tonight because I couldn’t get going.”
Grant Enfinger and outside pole-sitter Stewart Friesen completed the top five finishers. There were 14 cars that finished on the lead lap and the average speed was 122.658 mph. Five caution flags took up 25 of the 134 laps.
Earlier in the day, Ryan Blaney won the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series Pennzoil 400 with a lap of 28.200 seconds and speed of 191.489 mph on a windy day that featured gusts of more than 30 mph at times. It was Blaney’s third career pole and he led a 1-2-3 sweep for Ford in the starting order.
“It’s a combination of everyone working hard, and Fords in the top three is pretty cool,” Blaney said. “It shows the speed we’ve had all weekend, and hopefully we can keep it up for Sunday.”
Kevin Harvick, the 2015 winner at LVMS, will start on the outside pole, and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch will start third. Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson completed the top five.
CAPTION: Kyle Busch talks with crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. after Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Stratosphere 200 on Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.