Martin Truex Jr was near perfect, but would have been if not from competition from pole sitter Brad Keselowski. Keselowski took advantage of winning at Atlanta after Kevin Harvick’s speeding penalty, and looked to have total control after winning the Kobalt 400 pole. He had looked to become the first repeat Las Vegas winner since Jimmie Johnson won three in a row (2005, 06, 07), but had to battle a fast Toyota driven by Truex. Truex had been fastest in practice all weekend long.
Truex would win the first two stages and winning the race would grant him the maximum 60 points since NASCAR doesn’t award for laps led anymore. Keselowski and Truex would exchange the lead early in the race, and Truex would lead the most laps. Keselowski would however once again catch up to Truex on lap 244 and once again pull away looking to pull away for good and earn his second straight win in 2017. Keselowski most likely would have if Danica Patrick’s car hadn’t have blown up on lap 253.
The final restart would bring the biggest fireworks that Las Vegas expected since learning of being granted a second race in 2018. Keselowski was almost home free until something apparently broke inside his number 2 car, allowing Truex to pass him on the final two laps to win both stages and the race. Truex became the first NASCAR driver to “hit for the cycle” as quoted by Mike Joy to accomplish this on the Monster Energy level since the new format started.
Truex becoming the third different winning Monster Energy driver to qualify for the playoffs would not be the only fireworks as the first fist-o-cuffs of the year occurred after the race on pit road. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were battling for a top five spot on the final lap: Busch looked to bump Logano and it was claimed that Logano got loose and bumped him into pit road causing him to finish 22nd.
Busch approached Logano and swung the first punch, though Logano claimed he didn’t. Both crews and a NASCAR official tackled Busch to the ground and Busch ended up with a bloody forehead at the end. Truex is now locked into the playoffs with brother Kurt and Keselowski, but Keselowski now holds the points lead because Harvick blew a right front tire and crashed out of the race. Ford still has two wins and Toyota its first in 2017.
One third of the West Coast Swing is finished and now it is time to head to Phoenix, where it is said to be near 100 degrees during the race weekend.