For most drivers, the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sunday, 3:30 p.m., FOX) will merely mark the third points race in a long season — an early chance to rectify wrongs and maintain momentum.
But for some, it might mean more.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the home racetrack for brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch, and it’ll mark a bunch of “firsts” for the both of them.
For Kurt, this will mark the first visit to his home racetrack since announcing his retirement from driving full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series. The 2004 Cup champion delivered that announcement in the Las Vegas media center through tears, adding that he still “wasn’t 100%” recovered from a concussion he sustained earlier that summer and that it was best for 23XI Racing to move on without him.
For Kyle, this will mark his first visit to his home racetrack not in a Joe Gibbs Racing car. He’ll be driving the No. 8 for Richard Childress Racing — the same car he competed until the end in at the Clash and the Daytona 500, and the same car in which he won his fifth race at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway.
It might be emotional for both brothers collectively, too. With Kyle’s win last weekend, the Busch brothers are now the winningest brother duo in NASCAR Cup Series history with 95 wins. They edged out Bobby and Donnie Allison, who recorded a combined 94 wins.
Kyle Busch is a favorite to win the 2023 Pennzoil 400 on Sunday at 6-1 odds, per CBS Sports as of Friday afternoon. Kyle Larson is right with him at 6-1 odds — followed by Ross Chastain (who’s won three stages in two races) and Joey Logano at 8-1 odds.
A total of 17 different Cup drivers have won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Among them: Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have each won three times there. The last time Kyle Busch won there was in 2009.
Chase Elliott will miss race at Las Vegas
NASCAR’s most popular driver will miss Sunday’s race.
Chase Elliott underwent successful surgery for an injury to his left leg on Friday night after a snowboarding accident in Colorado. Xfinity Series star Josh Berry will drive the No. 9 car in Elliott’s stead.
After wrecking out of the Daytona 500, Elliott finished second to Kyle Busch in Fontana last weekend. The 2020 Cup Series champion and Hendrick Motorsports superstar will now need a waiver from NASCAR in order to be eligible for this year’s playoffs because he’s missing a race — something NASCAR will almost certainly do. The sanctioning body has granted waivers for medical reasons before, most recently during the 2022 season, when Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman sustained concussions at different points of last year.
At a press conference Saturday, Hendrick Motorsports officials provided updates on Elliott’s health. They confirmed it was a fracture of the tibia in his left leg and said that the expectation is that Elliott would soon be released from the hospital.
“These guys have to go out and live a life outside of the racetrack,” said Jeff Andrews, who’s HMS’s president and general manager. “Certainly, what Chase was doing wasn’t anything abnormal for him. He’s an experienced snowboarder and he’s been doing it most of his life. It was an accident. A similar injury could happen falling off a mountain bike, or stepping off a curb while you’re jogging. It was an accident and Chase feels awful about it but our stance on it is just that. It was an accident and our guys have to go out and live their lives.”
There is no timetable set yet for when Elliott will return, officials said, but the goal is for the No. 9 car to still be in playoff contention by the summer.
How to watch Las Vegas race, track details
Race: Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, March 5, 2023
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (267 laps around 1.5-mile track)
This story was originally published March 5, 2023, 5:30 AM.
Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC and the ways in which sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the N.C. and S.C. Press Associations, as well as the APSE, which awarded him with Top-10 finishes in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in its 2021 writing contest. He previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill from 2019-22.