NASCAR rolls out west this week, heading to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Here are four things to monitor in Xfinity Series competition this weekend.
Will Kyle Busch rebound?
You may not remember this tidbit from last year, but Kyle Busch finished 14th at Las Vegas in 2018 in the Xfinity Series. It was a rare and odd experience watching Busch simply fight to stay inside the top ten. You may remember Busch getting passed by Brandon Jones, to which Kyle responded with a certain finger out of his window.
hahaha. Kyle Busch giving his Joe Gibbs teammate Brandon Jones a middle finger in the middle of the xfinity race. And it wasn't the joking/friendly kind pic.twitter.com/Ngfr48GfOb
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) March 3, 2018
To make matters more strange, Christopher Bell was just fine during the race. Busch’s JGR teammate ended up finishing second to Kyle Larson, while Brandon Jones finished 7th.
Busch will get a chance at redemption this weekend. He’ll once again get a chance to turn up the night before, racing in the Truck Series.
Austin Dillon’s 2019 debut
Kaulig Racing will run their No. 10 entry for the second time this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Austin Dillon will drive, marking the second time he’s been in the car.
Dillon drove the No. 10 in its first attempt at Indianapolis, finishing 8th. Ross Chastain brought it home 13th at Daytona two weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if a full time team forms out of Kaulig’s slow creep into the two team waters.
An emerging Brandon Brown?
A quick look through the standings in the middle portion of Saturday’s race at Atlanta revealed a nice surprise. Brandon Brown — piloting a No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports entry — was a consistent fixture in the top 15.
Brown ended up 13rd when it was all said and done, capitalizing on an 11th place starting position thanks to some morning rain. There wasn’t anything fluky about Brown’s run. He parked it inside the top 15 and stayed there for the majority of the day. Brown finished one spot behind JRM driver Michael Annett and one spot ahead of Ross Chastain. That’s pretty impressive stuff for such a new team.
There’s a clear tier one in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. It’s guys like Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier — each have Cup backing and funding to help them along the way. But guys like Ryan Sieg and Brandon Brown are a part of that second tier. It’s fun to watch them mix it up with the big money.
Who exactly is going to stop Christopher Bell?
This week, maybe it turns out to be Kyle Busch. But as far as Xfinity Series regulars go? The answer may turn out to be nobody.
Late in the going at Atlanta, Tyler Reddick appeared to have something for Bell on the longer run. A late caution spoiled a look at how that one may have shaken out. But we know Reddick really gets the job done on old, worn-out intermediate tracks. What this week on a moderately-worn 1.5 mile Las Vegas? Short tracks — basically anywhere outside of a road course, Bell will be the favorite. Even on the surface at Atlanta last week, Bell was basically unchallenged for the majority of the day.
We saw Brandon Jones make a strong run inside the top five at Atlanta. We know that Justin Allgaier will be stronger once the schedules shifts away from the intermediates. Cole Custer has yet to prove that he can contend on a weekly basis. Maybe Noah Gragson can mount a charge later in the year once he gets a little more comfort in his JRM No. 9.
But right now? It’s all Christopher Bell. The table is set for him to win double-digit races in 2019 and really turn up the heat on Joe Gibbs to get him in one of his four Cup entries for next season.