Las Vegas: Checkered and Black Flags

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided plenty of ups and downs, and MRN's Pete Pistone waves his checkered and black flags. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided plenty of ups and downs.

Checkered Flags

Team Penske
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano provided the organization with a one-two punch, taking the top spots in Sunday’s race. Keselowski hadn’t won since Fontana, Calif., last season but showed in Vegas why he and crew chief Paul Wolfe are still a formidable pairing. Logano has been fast all season and turned in another impressive performance. All around, it was a good day for "The Captain," team owner Roger Penske.

Kyle Busch
After trouncing the field in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, Busch came back with a strong effort in the main event. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team struggled much of the weekend and Busch qualified 23rd. But he got up front and stayed there. Busch also made the highlight reel with a daring sixth-to-first move on a late restart to maintain his early-season momentum.

Austin Dillon
Things were dicey in Vegas for Dillon early (pun intended) with some terse radio communication followed by a speeding violation on pit road. Once Dillon settled down, he made a strong push to the front and came home with a fifth-place finish. He continues to look like a driver on the verge of his first career Sprint Cup Series win.

Ryan Blaney
Quiet and steady was the order of the day for Blaney, who captured his third career top-10 finish. The Wood Brothers team has gotten off to a good start this year with its young driver who, like Dillon, many believe can soon find his way to Victory Lane.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
There are a number of tracks that have trouble breaking through the clutter of the many events going on in its market during race weekends. LVMS is not one of them. There's always something going on in "Sin City," with this past weekend's UFC fight just one of many events. NASCAR still received a great deal of exposure and despite the challenging weather conditions, a healthy crowd filled the grandstands on Sunday.

Black Flags

Matt Kenseth
Maybe Kenseth himself doesn’t deserve a black flag, but his rotten luck sure does. For the third straight week, Kenseth found himself with a fast racecar capable of coming home with a good finish only to have something go wrong. Sunday, it was a spin in Turn 2 followed by a hard hit from rookie Chase Elliott.

Kyle Larson
Any hopes of erasing the disappointing sophomore season of a year ago are fading early for Larson, who again struggled at Las Vegas. He was involved in a pair of accidents, including a second one that ended his day with hard contact into the wall.

Clint Bowyer
There was great anticipation for Bowyer’s arrival at HScott Motorsports in his one-year bridge before taking Tony Stewart’s ride in 2017. However, the team has not shown any improvement over last year’s performance with Justin Allgaier behind the wheel and Bowyer again was a non-factor in Sunday’s race.

Denny Hamlin
Rough day for the Daytona 500 winner, who was also inexplicably a non-factor on Sunday. While JGR  teammates Busch, Kenseth and even Carl Edwards spent time near the front of the field, Hamlin was missing in action all day.

'Mother Nature'
What is it with NASCAR racing in the desert? Last year’s November race in Phoenix was cut short by rain, and Sunday’s trip to Las Vegas featured high winds and drizzle. There were times when LVMS looked like the set of "Lawrence of Arabia 2" with sand swirling around the track.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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