Hometown Hero: Kyle Busch dominates Las Vegas Truck Series race

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 03: Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Zariz Transport Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Victoria's Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

A full race weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is off to a great start for hometown driver Kyle Busch. He led 85 of the 134 laps en route to his 63rd NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory.

Friday night’s win also marked the first checkered flag for Kyle Busch Motorsports running under the Chevrolet banner, adding to a long history of victorious tradition in his time with Toyota.

Of his dominant performance, all Kyle could mention were “a couple dicey moments in traffic—not too bad.”

“But I would have loved to have raced with Zane,” Busch said of runner-up Zane Smith, whose Front Row Motorsports team “kind of got off strategy where we were able to cycle up, and we got clean air for most of the start of that last run. He came through the field and got to second, and we kind of maintained. If we’d have been able to race it out, it would have been a hell of a show.”

He’ll also compete in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race along with his normal Cup Series duties on Sunday in an attempt to complete the three-race weekend sweep that he’s accomplished twice at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“All in all,” Busch said, it was “just a great night here, to be able to win in Las Vegas again—and you’ve got to win the first to be able to win all three. Right?”

The 37-year-old Nevadan overcame a pit-road blunder in Stage 1 that put him at the back of the field after a safety truck was in his stall when Busch brought the No. 51 Chevrolet to pit road.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 03: Zane Smith, driver of the #38 Speedco Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2022 Truck Series champion Zane Smith was still strong, winning the first stage, although he rued not being able to compete in the closing laps.

“I’m happy with our day,” Smith said. Happy with our stage win. Got shuffled back there in one of those late-race restarts and just kind of let Kyle get away—and it’s so hard executing pit road chasing him.”

“Still happy with our day—another good points day,” he concluded. “Create some momentum and go on to the next one.”

2021 champion Ben Rhodes took the final podium spot while Corey Heim and Ty Majeski rounded out the top five. Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Chase Purdy, Grant Enfinger and Jake Garcia completed the top 10.

Truck title hopefuls Smith and Hocevar took home the first two stages.

Hailie Deegan, who qualified well in fifth, crashed with Ross Chastain and John Hunter Nemechek on lap 60 to draw out the sixth and final caution of the day, for the largest wreck of the race.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 03: Kaz Grala, driver of the #1 Ruedebusch Dev & Construction Toyota, Bret Holmes, driver of the #32 Pate Holdings Chevrolet, Carson Hocevar, driver of the #42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, and Ben Rhodes, driver of the #99 Kubota Ford, race during the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 presented by Westgate Resorts
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, March 3, 2023

1. (1) Kyle Busch(i), Chevrolet, 134.
2. (7) Zane Smith, Ford, 134.
3. (9) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 134.
4. (15) Corey Heim, Toyota, 134.
5. (4) Ty Majeski, Ford, 134.
6. (12) Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 134.
7. (8) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 134.
8. (3) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 134.
9. (17) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 134.
10. (14) Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 134.
11. (11) Matt Crafton, Ford, 134.
12. (19) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 133.
13. (16) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 133.
14. (22) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 133.
15. (18) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 133.
16. (25) Dean Thompson, Toyota, 133.
17. (10) Kaz Grala(i), Toyota, 133.
18. (27) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 133.
19. (20) Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 132.
20. (21) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 132.
21. (30) Max Gutierrez, Ford, 131.
22. (26) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 131.
23. (31) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 130.
24. (23) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 130.
25. (29) Kaden Honeycutt, Ford, 130.
26. (35) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 129.
27. (32) Mason Massey, Ford, 129.
28. (28) Kris Wright, Chevrolet, 126.
29. (24) Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, 122.
30. (2) Nick Sanchez #, Chevrolet, Accident, 103.
31. (13) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Toyota, Vibration, 98.
32. (5) Hailie Deegan, Ford, Accident, 59.
33. (34) Brennan Poole(i), Toyota, Rear Gear, 20.
34. (6) Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, Accident, 16.
35. (33) Josh Reaume, Ford, Transmission, 4.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 118.293 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 41 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory: 4.981 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 27 laps.
Lead Changes: 16 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Busch(i) 1-7;N. Sanchez # 8-11;K. Busch(i) 12-21;N. Sanchez # 22-25;Z. Smith 26-33;G. Enfinger 34-36;C. Hocevar 37-39;K. Busch(i) 40-44;C. Hocevar 45-51;B. Rhodes 52;C. Hocevar 53-57;B. Rhodes 58;C. Hocevar 59-62;K. Grala(i) 63-67;K. Busch(i) 68-105;D. Dye # 106-110;K. Busch(i) 111-134.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch(i) 5 times for 84 laps; Carson Hocevar 4 times for 19 laps; Nick Sanchez # 2 times for 8 laps; Zane Smith 1 time for 8 laps; Kaz Grala(i) 1 time for 5 laps; Daniel Dye # 1 time for 5 laps; Grant Enfinger 1 time for 3 laps; Ben Rhodes 2 times for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 38,98,25,23,24,88,99,42,41,15
Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,99,25,4,23,88,24,1,15,98

Owen Johnson