It had been 17 years since Kyle Busch drove into Victory Lane at his hometown short track, The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On Thursday night, the man who’s accustomed to lifting hardware in the NASCAR Cup Series took home a trophy that was close to his heart.
Busch outlasted the field at the Star Nursery 100 Super Late Model Open Comp race, finishing 1.220 seconds ahead of Christian McGhee and 1.312 clear of regional star and multiple-time Bullring winner Derek Thorn.
“It’s been a long time since I won here – a really long time,” said Busch, who has won more than 50 races at the 3/8-mile paved oval. “The fans here have always supported me – in the beginning from The Bullring days when I was a kid.
“Thanks to all the supporters out here in Las Vegas – my mom and dad, and my wife and my son now … how times have changed. It’s so cool and special to come out here – I want to thank Craig Keough and Star Nursery for sponsoring this event, and the next one.”
Busch started slow, beginning in the seventh spot and staying outside the top five for the first few laps.
“We had a lot of cautions there early and were eating some laps in the yellow, and it was going to be a short race under the green flag,” Busch said.
The defending NASCAR Cup Series champion was patient and eventually moved his way up to the front. Busch briefly took the lead on lap 63, only to see Thorn retake him for the top spot.
But Busch didn’t wait long to fight back, executing a bump-and-run move to pass Thorn on lap 65. He wouldn’t look back from there.
“We had a good car and just kind of got stuck there for a little bit,” Busch said. “That’s The Bullring – that’s how I remember it the times I used to be here. You gotta move them, or you’ll get moved. It’s fun racing.
“Thorn is one of the best competitors out here on the west coast, there’s no question. So, it’s cool to beat those guys tonight.”
Thorn led many of the laps before Busch overtook him and was the primary competition for the NASCAR pro throughout the race. McGhee bumped Thorn on the final lap to finish second.
Sam Mayer is only 16, but he’s already driving at a much higher level. Mayer, fresh off a win at the season-opening ARCA East Series race at New Smyrna, Fla., nearly led wire-to-wire to take the checkered flag in the Star Nursery 150 ARCA Menards Series West race.
Mayer was making his first start in the ARCA West Series and at The Bullring. So, it was quite a debut for the driver of the No. 21 Spencer Clark “Driven” Foundation Chevrolet.
“That was an amazing race,” Mayer said. “I’m trying to live up to the Spencer Clark name, for sure.”
Mayer was running a paint scheme honoring the late Spencer Clark and his posthumous Spencer Clark “Driven” Foundation. Clark, a 33-time Bullring winner, was killed in a highway accident on May 21, 2006.
“This is definitely one to remember, and hopefully I can continue doing this,” Mayer said of the win. “We want to win as many as we can – the main goal is a championship overall, but the wins will come with that.”
Mayer led almost every lap, with second-place Jesse Love, 15, overtaking him only briefly. By the time the dust settled, Mayer crossed the finish line 1.762 seconds ahead of Love and nearly three seconds clear of Blaine Perkins.
Both divisions’ track records were broken during qualifying. McGhee clocked a 14.235-second lap at 94.837 miles per hour, which easily topped Linny White’s 14.345 mark from 2019, while Sam Mayer’s lap of 14.611 seconds at 92.396 mph broke Greg Pursley’s mark for the ARCA Menards division of 14.976 from 2011.
The Bullring action was the first of four consecutive days of racing at LVMS, with the Strat 200 Gander RV & Outdoors NASCAR Truck Series race following on Friday night and the Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series event on Saturday. The Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube will put an exclamation point on the weekend on Sunday.
Star Nursery 150 ARCA Menards Series West race
1.Sam Mayer; 2. Jesse Love (-1.762 seconds); 3. Blaine Perkins (-2.836); 4. Gracie Trotter (-4.281); 5. Trevor Huddleston (-4.299); 6. Lawless Allen (-4.581); 7. Jack Wood (-5.624); 8. Todd Souza (-6.441); 9. Austin Reed (-1 lap); 10. Gio Scelzi (-2 laps); 11. Takuma Koga (-3 laps); 12. Holley Hollan (-3 laps); 13. Bobby Hills Jr. (-13 laps); 14. Joey Iest (-45 laps); 15. Chris Lowden (-52 laps); 16. Zach Telford (-71 laps); 17. Bridgett Burgess (-110).
Star Nursery 100 Super Late Model Open Comp
1. Kyle Busch; 2. Christian McGhee (-1.220 seconds); 3. Derek Thorn (-1.312); 4. Tyler Fabozzi (-2.428); 5. Sammy Smith (-2.738); 6. Trevor Christiani (-3.325); 7. Tanner Reif (-3.960); 8. Jonathan Mawhinney (-4.861); 9. Austin Thom (-5.233); 10. Dylan Lupton (-5.577); 11. Jimmy Parker Jr. (-6.727); 12. Jim Wulfenstein (-6.978); 13. Joe Farre (-7.227); 14. Andy Allen (-8.445); 15. Dean Thompson (-8.753); 16. Brittney Zamora (-12.602); 17. Scott Gafforini (-15.143); 18. Stan Mulls (-2 laps); 19. Steve Anderson (-3 laps); 20. Chris Clyne (-34 laps); 21. Kyle Neveau (-46 laps); 22. Aaron McMorran (-49 laps); 23. Brandon Farrington (-77 laps); 24. Warren Knipper (DNF).