NASCAR Truck Series: 5 Takeaways from Las Vegas

NASCAR Truck Series - 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)

Pit crews arriving late, strong runs for rookies, & Kyle Busch winning at home. Five takeaways from this weekend’s NASCAR Truck Series race.

With lots of storylines from Vegas, here are five takeaways from the NASCAR Truck Series at Las Vegas.

1 – Kyle Busch dominates at hometown track

Kyle Busch showed he is still the king in the Truck Series. He qualified P1 and like many teams, his pit crew was arriving late. With a hodge-podge pit crew, he had a loose wheel and went to the back of the field on lap 24. At the stage end on lap 32, he finished 12th, and with his dedicated pit crew back, he was in the top 5 in the second stage start at lap 37, taking the lead at lap 39. Busch would have an exciting battle with Carson Hocevar until a spin would bring out the caution flag. Busch’s Silverado was lightning fast, but Zane Smith’s F150 was close, he would finish second to Kyle, five seconds back. Busch led 84 laps on his way to victory, his fourth at the speedway in the Truck Series.

2 – Pit crew members arrive late

REV Racing, KBM, Thorsport, McAnally, and several other teams were missing a crucial part of their team at the drop of the green flag – the pit crew. A plane leaving North Carolina carrying pit crew members was delayed departing. The plane was unable to fly and members boarded a new plane heading for Vegas. Making a fuel stop in Tulsa, the plane was already cutting it close to the green flag. With just 25 minutes from landing to the green flag, crews received a police escort from the airport to make it to the racetrack.

With the late arrival of the pit crews, some teams pitted with a mix of crews from throughout the garage. Winner of the race, Kyle Busch’s first pit stop was completed by a mix of Kaulig Racing and RCR Xfinity road mechanics. By the end of stage one, most of the crew members were suited up and ready to go. An unexpected side story for this race.

3 – Eckes and MHR looking strong

While all the Silverados were incredibly quick, Christian Eckes and McAnally-Hilgemann Racing’s #19 NAPA Silverado was the second fastest on track. Presumably upset about a second place at Daytona, he qualified 12th at Vegas, but by lap four he was running fifth. The highlight of his race and maybe the most impressive save in Truck Series history came on lap 28. Christian was in the middle of three-wide with Ty Majeski and Zane Smith. Coming off the backstretch, Majeski got on the right rear of Eckes and got him loose. Drifting up the track, Eckes kept his foot on the gas and just barely kissed the wall with the tailgate of his truck.

The slide moved him back in the pack but he fought on. He battled back up into the top ten to finish 6th. He also walks away from Vegas with the Truck Series points lead. McAnally has been bringing some race-winning trucks these past two races. It will be long before we see Christian Eckes back in victory lane.

4- Rookies have strong runs

Rookies Nick Sanchez and Jake Garcia brought speed with their Chevrolets. Sanchez qualified second, behind Kyle Busch. REV Racing and KBM are technically aligned, but Garcia in the #35 for MHR qualified 14th in his first start this season. Sanchez and Busch dueled on the opening laps, with Garcia leading eight laps. Sanchez’s run was cut short when a well-executed side draft from Ty Majeski got Nick loose and slammed the straightaway wall, giving him his first DNF.

Jake Garcia had a quiet night, compared to his teammate at MHR. He quietly finished 10th in his first race this season. As said earlier, MHR has brought impressive speed compared to years past. I think we can see more good runs for both Sanchez and Garcia this season.

5 – Hailie Deegan DNFs again

Hailie Deegan has not finished a race this season. She wrecked at Daytona and again at Vegas where she was put in the middle of three wide. A bump from Christian Eckes moved through Deegan and got John Hunter Nemechek spun around and put her in the wall. A disappointing end to what could have been a great result. She qualified fifth, a personal best in her Truck career.

The race craft in the Truck Series is very immature, even Kyle Busch commented about it on the radio to his team. Deegan has become a victim of it more and more, but we need to see results. We will see better finishes as we progress through the season, but not a good start to her season.

The NASCAR Truck Series will return on March 18th for the FR8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images