|Tony Stewart celebrates first win at Las Vegas
Photo – NASCAR.com
In a rather uneventful race at Las Vegas, the defending 2011 champion Tony Stewart held off five-time champion, Jimmie Johnson for the victory. This was Stewart’s first career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Early in the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick battle with strong cars and led most of the first quarter of the race.
On lap 45 Rookie of the Year contender Timmy Hill, who missed the first two races at Daytona and Phoenix, hit the wall and ended his day.
The second caution of the day came out when the #10 car of David Reutimann made contact with the wall. The next caution occurred when the former Red Bull Team – now called BK (Burger King) Racing – with one of their two drivers, Travis Kvapil blow an engine. As soon as the caution came out Kyle Busch who was behind Kvapil when he blew the motor got into some oil and slightly tapped the wall but was able to continue.
After a few debris cautions, the most excitement of the race is set to begin. On lap 244 Landon Cassill blew his engine; Cassill is Kvapil’s teammate who blew an engine earlier in the race.
As soon as the green flag flew after that last caution, Brad Keselowski who restarted second, had a fuel pump issue causing his car to not produce fuel for the car and Brad’s car slowed immediately as he dropped to the rear of the field, then to the garage ending his day.
With 12 laps to go, Kurt Busch in the No.51 ran over a piece of debris, cutting down one of his tires and causing Busch to spin down the backstretch, then making significant contact with the inside wall and ending his day.
The final caution of the day occurred when Kyle Busch cut down a rear left tire and spun into the infield grass on the front-stretch.
Now the race comes down to a battle between the drivers who have won the last seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships. On the restart Stewart took the lead over Johnson who closed in quickly but was never able to clear Stewart again before the checkered flag.
Also on that restart, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne made contact with the wall and Kenseth had enough damage to end his hopes of a top ten finish. Kenseth ended up finishing 22nd, with Kasey Kahne finishing 19th .
After the race Stewart was stoked about winning for the first time at Las Vegas.
In a race that failed to live up to the spectacular shows drivers likely witnessed throughout the week on the Vegas strip, the race did offer some great racing and great saves by drivers.
Next week in one of the most exciting races of the season, we go to the Bristol Motor Speedway for a race full of beating and banging.