Roger Diez: Kyle Busch is a racer, not a fighter | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: Kyle Busch is a racer, not a fighter

Roger Diez

Las Vegas is known for many things, among them NASCAR racing and MMA championship fights. Based on last Sunday’s post-race festivities, it’s a good thing Kyle Busch made the former rather than the latter a career choice. There’s a Facebook meme going around the internet with a photo of a bloodied Busch and a parody of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” Dos Equis commercials. The caption reads, “I don’t always start fights. But when I do, I get my a– kicked.” After reviewing the actions of Busch, Joey Logano, and their crews, NASCAR elected not to issue any penalties. However, both drivers will be “counseled” by NASCAR officials prior to this weekend’s race at Phoenix, in hopes of forestalling any on-track retaliation. It seems to me the “new, improved” Kyle Busch has reverted to the old formula. I hope Coach Gibbs can remedy the situation.

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Aside from the post-race fisticuffs, we had our third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup winner in three points races. Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota joined the two Ford-mounted winners Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski in the projected playoff lineup. Truex’s car was found to have loose lug nuts in post-race inspection, resulting in a safety violation and a $10,000 fine for crew chief Cole Pearn. The other big news out of Las Vegas was the announcement of a second race at LVMS in 2018, a triple-header with all three NASCAR touring series involved. The date is yet to be determined, but we can hope it will be a playoff race.

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So far this season, a Chevy has yet to visit victory circle. But with three winners in three races, if this rate keeps up, the Playoff field will be set by mid-season. Then drivers will start to get bumped. It’s unlikely that will happen, but with the competitive grids and NASCAR’s leveling of the playing field, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have 16 race winners in the playoffs by the time the checkered flag flies at Richmond in September.

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This weekend it’s on to Harvickland, oops ­I mean Phoenix. Kevin Harvick has been nothing less than phenomenal at the one-mile desert oval, winning 13 Cup races there including six of the last 10 outings. His most recent Phoenix victory was a year ago. Jimmie Johnson is second among active drivers on the win list, but hasn’t won since November of 2009. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has three wins, most recently in November 2015. Active drivers with one Phoenix victory are both Busch brothers, Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, and Matt Kenseth. Will Phoenix see the first Chevy visit victory circle in 2017, or will Harvick put another one in the win column for Ford? Place your bets.

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The Verizon IndyCar Series opened its season last Sunday in St. Petersburg, with four-time CART champion Sebastien Bourdais winning for the underdog Dale Coyne Racing team. Bourdais got a little help from a caution flag that caught the early front-runners a lap down after pit stops, but nevertheless had an impressive run from dead last at the start to take the win. Defending IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud finished second, salvaging the day for Penske Racing, and Scott Dixon came home third, upholding the honor of Chip Ganassi Racing. The Penske and Ganassi organizations are the dominant teams in the series, so it was particularly embarrassing for them to be beaten by the most underfunded team. Next up on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Long Beach, coming up on April 7-9.

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For drag racing fans, the NHRA is in action this weekend at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. Fox Sports One will televise both qualifying and eliminations.