Las Vegas is known as "Sin City," where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Unfortunately, when it comes to NASCAR, what happens in Vegas is talked about for days on end. The speedway is one of the best tracks for competition and has given us a lot of exciting moments over the last few years.
Sunday afternoon was no exception as we saw blunders by some drivers, unexpected moments, a driver ready to cash in, while another hit the jackpot.
No time to waste, this week's "Parks Race Reactions" will look at the Shelby American at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The unexpected moment of the entire afternoon didn't even happen to a driver. Instead, it happened to the track. Twice in the last three weeks, the track has been the reason for a caution. Daytona had it's infamous pothole, and now Las Vegas can't control it's lights.
For a city known because of a street filled with neon, the track had trouble twice with it's caution lights. One time, they wouldn't shut off once the field went green. Then, almost halfway into the race, suddenly they turned on.
When exactly did the Twilight Zone decide to enter NASCAR? That's some weird stuff right there.
Once the track issue was fixed, the racing on the track was hot and heavy. Unfortunately, if you were looking for a battle for the lead, they were few and far between.
Sure, there were 18 lead changes, but not many of those came on the track under green-flag racing. Many of those were during a pit cycle, on a restart, or under caution. Not many happened while the drivers were going full throttle.
It wasn't until late in the race where there was a strong battle for the lead. But until that point, one driver had the race practically in the bag.
How appropriate that Jeff Gordon promote the Pepsi Max product on his car this weekend. I'm not sure if it was the ginseng in the cola, or twice the caffeine, but his car was a rocket from the drop of the green flag. Pole-sitter Kurt Busch didn't even lead the first lap as Gordon got a run coming off turn three to get the lead.
The car simply was unbeatable. Gordon had the lead for 221 of 267 laps, purely the class of the field. Not even a small pit road miscue could keep the No. 24 from getting back out front.
An incredible run by this team. But unfortunately, they didn't lead the lap that mattered.
The last round of pit stops, crew chief Steve Letarte decides on just two tires. Seemed to be a good call as there were only a few laps on the tires following a round of green-flag stops.
But, teammate Jimmie Johnson decided to crash the party. Chad Knaus decided on going with four tires instead of two. With very few cars on the lead lap, it proved to be the smartest move of the day.
Johnson came up and challenged for the lead, but Gordon just wouldn't let him have it easily. But, as he continued to battle, he saw that the No. 48 was the faster car.
With 26 laps left, Gordon had no choice but to yield to Johnson, who then expanded his lead and went onto victory.
If there was ever a team that had momentum to start out a season, it's the champ. Three weeks, two victories, and now fifth in the standings. Needless to say, Johnson is already looking at winning a fifth championship.
A lot of credit also goes to Richard Childress driver Kevin Harvick as he finished second. This is a spectacular start to a season following the disaster of 2009. Sure, there's only three races complete, but it's a way better start to the year than anything Harvick and the No. 29 team saw last year. I'm expecting big things from this team in weeks to come.
That could come as early as next week, as NASCAR goes to my favorite track on the schedule. Fast, wide, multiple grooves, and did I mention fast...it's Atlanta.
Next Sunday cannot come soon enough. Let's go racing again, boys.
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