Kyle Busch wins Cup at Las Vegas

Kyle Busch stormed from the back of the field to take his first Sprint Cup series win of the season in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Kyle Busch wins Cup at Las Vegas

After setting pole position for his home race on Friday, Busch lost the benefit of starting up front due to an engine change performed on his car before qualifying. However that didn't stop him from getting in contention for his and Toyota's first win of the year.

The driver nicknamed 'Rowdy' made steady progress through the field in the first half of the race and then, through good pace and the right strategy calls, he was able to grab the lead on lap 228 from Jeff Burton.

He looked in control of the race from then on, although during a late caution period he dropped back to third when he pitted for fuel and two new tyres, while Clint Bowyer stayed out and Jeff Burton took fuel only, both jumping him in the order.

However the Richard Childress Racing pair were unable to hold Busch off and in a handful of laps he was back up front and out of reach. There were two further cautions after that, but on cold tyres nobody got anywhere near the No. 18 M&M's Toyota.

"It's awesome, this is just the feeling of a lifetime," said Busch about winning his home race. "We didn't have the best car today but I feel like I drove a smart race anyway and did what we needed to do, kept working on [the car] all day, kept making it better.

"I didn't know for sure how good those guys were going to be there in the end with used tyres. I knew they would be able to go and they were going to be fast right out of the gate because they knew what their cars were. They'd been on their tyres and running their pace.

"We just got two tyres [on the last pitstop], so we didn't really know how good it was going to be but the two tyres on this thing and a little bit of gas that we took was really the magic in this thing to make it home."

Bowyer didn't win but still saw great reward to his strategy gamble. He didn't pit when all the leaders did for the last time, jumping from a likely top-ten finish to the runner-up spot, not only in the race but also in the championship.

"Yeah, you know it was a wild day," said Bowyer. "We went a lap down, got that back. I think (Juan Pablo) Montoya run into me, knocked the right rear end and we got that fixed and got back up there.

"Shane Wilson (crew chief) made a great call. Just a good way to bounce back."

Burton finished third, also making a strategy gamble work. He grabbed the lead during the ninth caution period of the race on lap 167, when he was one of a number of cars that stayed on the track while most pitted.

In clean air he looked dominant at times, leading for 61 laps. He eventually got back in sequence during a later caution period, but in the end he couldn't find as much pace as Busch to challenge him for the win.

"I don't know why, but we were really strong on old tyres," Burton said. "We can't seem to go on new tyres very well. Stayed out that one time and led the race for a long time. Then the No. 48 came and we drove back away from him. Came in and put four tyres on it and went to run in the back. I don't know, that has been our struggle."

David Reutimann scored a career-high fourth place finish, also recovering from the back of the grid to due an engine change. Despite an early brush with the wall he showed his fourth place in qualifying was no fluke by recovering even faster than Busch in the first part of the race.

Then he made similar moves as the eventual race-winner to make the most of the pace he showed all day.

Bobby Labonte followed a similar strategy to Burton's to move up in the order in the second half of the race, running second to Kyle Busch for a number of laps. However he dropped out of contention for victory during his last pitstop when he almost made contact with Jimmie Johnson while leaving his pitbox, finishing fifth in the end.

Although he was a frontrunner early on, Jeff Gordon claimed an unlikely sixth place after he blew a tyre while trying to pit on lap 220. He was able to remain on the lead lap thanks to the caution flag coming out immediately, but still there was massive bodywork damage to the left-front of his car.

He pitted a number of times for repairs and then gambled on staying out as Bowyer did on the twelfth of an event-record fourteen caution periods. His strategy paid off in the end, as his sixth place allows him to take the lead of the championship for the first time since 2007.

"It was an eventful day that's for sure," said Gordon. "We had an awesome race car and it was a lot of fun up there battling for the lead with my teammate Jimmie (Johnson).

"I just was coming to pit road and saw the guys behind me, looked like they were coming down on me pretty hard so I tried to get off on the apron and when I did it just locked the left front up and I missed pitroad. And then locked the left front up and blew the left front. We kind of got fortunate in the one sense that the caution came out."

"I know it hurt a bunch of other guys but I'm just proud of the job that the team did to get that fender cut off there and still pull off a sixth-place finish. That's pretty amazing."

Greg Biffle looked dominant in the early running but he was just seventh at the flag after being forced to save his engine following failures among his teammates.

Former points leader Matt Kenseth only ran a handful of laps before he had to retire with a smoking engine, and teammate David Ragan followed before the halfway mark of the race in similar fashion. Then Carl Edwards' unit blew up on the penultimate lap, costing him a top-five finish.

Also retiring with engine issues was Mark Martin, who had already retired at California last week due to a broken valve spring.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson also led the race and looked a contender for victory but he was caught on pitroad when the caution came out for Gordon's tyre blow-out and he dropped a lap down. He got back on the lead lap but then crashed at turn two seven laps from the end.

Joey Logano finished thirteenth as the best rookie in his best showing of the year thus far.

Pos Driver Make Laps 1. Kyle Busch Toyota 285 2. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 285 3. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 285 4. David Reutimann Toyota 285 5. Bobby Labonte Ford 285 6. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 285 7. Greg Biffle Ford 285 8. Brian Vickers Toyota 285 9. Jamie McMurray Ford 285 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 285 11. Kasey Kahne Dodge 285 12. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 285 13. Joey Logano Toyota 285 14. David Gilliland Chevrolet 285 15. Robby Gordon Toyota 285 16. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 285 17. Carl Edwards Ford 285 18. David Stremme Dodge 284 19. Regan Smith Chevrolet 284 20. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 284 21. Scott Speed Toyota 284 22. Denny Hamlin Toyota 284 23. Kurt Busch Dodge 284 24. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 284 25. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 283 26. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 283 27. Michael Waltrip Toyota 283 28. John Andretti Chevrolet 283 29. Elliott Sadler Dodge 283 30. Casey Mears Chevrolet 282 31. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 281 32. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 281 33. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 281 34. Reed Sorenson Dodge 278 35. Paul Menard Ford 269 36. Max Papis Toyota 258 37. Todd Bodine Toyota 227 38. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 221 39. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 143 40. Mark Martin Chevrolet 121 41. Joe Nemechek Toyota 102 42. David Ragan Ford 72 43. Matt Kenseth Ford 6 
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