This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Kurt Busch's decision to delay his final pit stop won him the jackpot Sunday night in Las Vegas. That late stop meant he was the only playoff contender not to have already visited pit road when Jimmie Johnson's rear tire gave up and brought out a caution. That sequence put Busch on the front row for the restart. He then battled with Matt DiBenedetto when the green flag came out to take the lead, survive two more restarts, and drive into Victory Lane for his first hometown race win in 21 tries. If that wasn't sweet enough, the victory also makes Busch the first driver locked into the final eight championship contenders as he looks to become one of the final four contenders to transfer into the finale at Phoenix later this fall.
Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were the cars to beat Sunday, but the untimely caution took away their track position and left them playing chase on fresher tires as Busch sailed away in the lead. Now the remaining championship contenders must weather two unpredictable races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte road course. Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, and Austin Dillon are all currently below the cutline looking for a way to move forward or capitalize on other contenders' trouble to advance to the penultimate round of championship eliminations.
Kurt Busch – Busch finally got a hometown win after 21 starts at Las Vegas, and this victory comes with an