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Non-playoff drivers round out top-5 in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Playoff drivers had their hands full with numerous non-playoff drivers competing towards the front of the field Sunday in Las Vegas. 

Behind the 1-2 duo of Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell were Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Ross Chastain who rounded out the top 5 finishers. 

For Busch, it was his second consecutive third-place finish. It comes after the No. 8 car had three consecutive finishes of 20th or worse that eliminated him in the Round of 12.

“Back-to-back top three [finishe]s is definitely something to be proud of,” Busch said. “Hate it that we’re a little late to the party. We’ve been working hard all year long. This weekend was a really good weekend for us. We unloaded strong, qualified strong and ran top-10 all day. I just struggled with restarts. Just could not keep my track position all day.” 

Cliff Daniels, crew chief for the winning No. 5 team, acknowledged a minor change could’ve sent Kyle Busch to victory lane. 

With his 10th top-5 finish of 2023, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has now earned double-digit top-5 finishes in 15 seasons.

Another contender was Brad Keselowski. Keselowski led the most laps of any non-playoff driver – 38 – and placed third and fifth in the stages.

Keselowski earned his first top-10 at Las Vegas since fall 2021. At the track, he has 13 top-10s in 21 starts.

Keselowski is on a massive run too. He has six top-10s in his last eight races.

Meanwhile, Ross Chastain placed second in stage two and dogged Christopher Bell for the lead in the final stage. Near the end, a couple of intense restarts helped him rebound for his ninth top-5 of the season. 

It’s been a better go for Chastain lately. He has two top-5s in the last five races. He also finished tenth at the Charlotte Roval. 

The field now heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway. The green flag is set to fly just after 2:30 P.M. EST next Sunday. 

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