With so much discussion about the scuffle this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano one point that comes clearly into focus is that Busch hit his points pressure limit with the on track mishap between the two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
The pressure point actually started at the end of last season, if you recall the last four drivers competing for the championship title were eventual 2016 champion Jimmie Johnson from Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards from Joe Gibbs Racing and Joey Logano from Team Penske. In the point standings after Homestead, Logano who finished fourth came in second in the point standings. Kyle Busch finished the race in sixth-place making him third in the point standings while his teammate Carl Edwards finished 34th at Homestead after an accident on the track.
Take into consideration that fellow JGR teammate Carl Edwards shocked everyone when just before the 2017 season started, he announced that he would not be racing this season. Replacing Edwards is Rookie of the Year contender, Daniel Suarez in the No. 20 car. Losing the veteran driver this season has left a hole for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization.
Coming into Las Vegas this weekend, Logano was fifth in the series point standings while Busch was 25th in points and 50 markers away from the points leader – Brad Keselowski. It probably doesn’t help that Logano and Keselowski are Team Penske teammates nor does it help that Ford is having a stronger start to the season – Busch’s brother Kurt Busch won at Daytona in a Ford, while Keselowski won at Atlanta in a Ford. The good news for Toyota is that Martin Truex Jr won at Las Vegas with Furniture Row Racing.
After a stellar Toyota season last year – also a strong season for Joe Gibbs Racing as the only organization with two of the last four drivers competing for the 2016 title, the 2017 season has been a disappointment so far.
Most agree that Logano didn’t do anything wrong with both he and Busch racing hard for position on the last lap when anything goes and no one wants to give up their position as they race to the checkered flag.
For Busch though that position meant an opportunity to move his points standing further up the list and keep in mind, Busch has yet to finish in the top-ten for the season. When the Logano incident put him out the race, his chance at a top-five finish and a better point position was lost.
To put that all into perspective, after Daytona, Busch was 29th in the point standings and after Atlanta he moved up four spots to 25th. Although Busch did improve his points position to 19th, he’s now 82 markers from the points leader with his 22nd-place finish at Las Vegas. Logano finished fourth at LVMS and is now fifth in the point standings, just 13 markers from the leader. Busch’s climb is getting more difficult as each race passes.
While there is certainly no intention to advocate punching a fellow competitor, it is somewhat understandable that Busch hit his points pressure limit with the Logano incident at Las Vegas – just the third race of the 2017 season.
Buckle up folks, there’s still a long season ahead and many more pressure point limits for drivers to manage. There could be more drama on the horizon as each race brings us closer to the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff that begins in September.