LAS VEGAS — Brad Keselowski summed up Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway best.
“That’s why you have to watch the race to the end,” said the 2012 Cup champion.
Keselowski could have been talking about multiple events in the closing laps and after the race.
He could have been talking about how he lost his brakes and real control of his car with two laps remaining.
He could have been talking about losing the race lead to winner Martin Truex Jr. when the brakes failed, and how Truex swept the race, winning both early stages — and the 10 points that go with each stage win — before taking the checkered flag.
After the race ended, Busch walked purposefully up pit road, took a sharp right in front of Logano’s car, and just as Logano was starting to speak, landed a much sharper right to Logano’s left jaw. Logano quickly closed the distance between them and threw some punches of his own before a good portion of Logano’s crew — big, burly, men all — descended upon Busch and wrestled him to the ground. With malice.
Busch left the scene bloodied, with what appeared to be a minor cut on his forehead.
After the race, everybody was talking about the fight and little else. Second- and third-place finishers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott were largely ignored in the postrace news conference. Same for members of Truex’s winning team, then Truex himself.
Truex understands. He’ll take his awesome day and head to Phoenix with momentum and a playoff berth already in hand. And he was as interested in the melee on pit road as he celebrated with burnouts on the track as the next person. He just wasn’t sure on the breakdown.
“No, I didn’t see anything,” he said. “I heard about it a little bit, that there was a little bit of a fight that broke out. I honestly have no idea on the details, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it and see it on Twitter when I get my phone and be able to read about it on the way home tonight.
“Who was fighting anyway? Kyle and Joey? Who won?”
Give the fight to Logano on points, but you have to admire Busch’s style.
Yes, this race had it all, including dreadfully boring stretches with nearly no passes for the lead under green-flag conditions.
There was some strategy involved, but almost every time a driver and crew chief tried something different, it didn’t work out.
Take your fuel, take your tires and take your chance.
That was the bad for NASCAR on Sunday.
The biggest chance of the day was taken by Busch. That was the good for NASCAR. It’s the one that will be long remembered.
And so will the two combatants’ responses to what occurred.
Logano, who said he and Busch have never had an issue, wishes things had happened differently.
“No, I don’t run from conflict,” Logano said. “You just talk about it, but he wasn’t in a talking mood. He was in a fighting mood, I guess.
“I don’t know. Typically, you can handle this stuff like men and talk about it. You don’t have to fight, but whatever.”
Honestly, that’s probably not the kind of resolution NASCAR, the media and series sponsor Monster Energy want to see. Have you seen how many videos have been posted online and how many highlight shows led with the fight?
A fight at the 1979 Daytona 500 started the sport on a rise that was unabated for 25 years. But in the past decade, fans in attendance and TV ratings have fallen dramatically. If that trend is going to be reversed, NASCAR needs more days — or at least 10-minute stretches — like it got in this one.
Busch, for his part, ended an interview with Fox with words that have to have NASCAR and other executives with a stake in the sport rubbing their hands together with glee.
“I got dumped,” Busch said of Logano. “He flat out just drove straight in the corner and wrecked me.
“That’s how Joey races, so he’s going to get it.”
No, Kyle Busch, clearly you get it.