And the rookie wasn’t the only notable name who left Vegas feeling busted.
Clint Bowyer started on the front row next to Brad Keselowski, but had trouble with his car apparently from the third lap, when he nearly lost control on a pass attempt. He pitted early with a flat tire and never recovered, finishing two laps down in 27th place and dropping to ninth in the overall points race.
Bowyer finished right behind Jeff Burton, who came in 26th, and Jeff Gordon, whose extra-loose car foundered from the early laps while his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates excelled. Burton and Gordon both finished a lap down after posting top-10s last week in Phoenix.
“We just never got up to speed,” Kurt said. “The car was loose, and then it was snug, and no matter what adjustments were made, we never could find the right balance for this track. We needed one more caution to get back on the lead lap, which would have given us a good opportunity to pick up additional positions. It wasn’t our day.”
Denny Hamlin didn’t do much with his anger about NASCAR’s $25,000 fine against him for criticizing the Gen-6 car, finishing 15th after a sixth-place start. He got an early speeding penalty and never threatened to catch up to his two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, winner Matt Kenseth and fourth-place finisher Kyle Busch.
And defending champion Tony Stewart had no love for his loose car as he dropped back in the field early from his ninth-place start. He was one lap down for a while before finishing 11th.
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