Byron wins in Las Vegas as Hendrick Motorsports finishes 1-2-3
By: Andrew N
William Byron won the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday evening in Las Vegas, the fifth win in his young career, as teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman finished 2nd and 3rd for a podium sweep for HMS.
Byron was the dominant car in this race, winning both stages and leading a race high 176 out of 271 laps.
Teammate Kyle Larson appeared in position for the win, leading by over 3 seconds with 5 laps to go, but Aric Almirola slammed into the wall with 4 to go to draw out the caution and set up a green-white-checkered overtime finish. Byron’s pit crew was faster on the final pit stop and got him out on track ahead of Larson which ultimately proved to be the race winning move.
In the overtime, only Martin Truex, Jr – who was in 4th prior to the caution – stayed out on older tires, while most of the leaders took 2 tires. Some drivers at the back end or outside of the top-10 elected to take four tires. On the restart, Truex simply had nothing for Byron, as the 24 car powered his way by on the outside and then led the final 1.5 laps to win the race. With the victory, Byron locked himself into the 2023 playoff field, joining Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Defending Cup Series Champion Joey Logano started on the pole and led the first 9 laps, but quickly faded. He and teammate Ryan Blaney were favorites to win the race, but instead both finished outside the top-10. Logano got into the wall on Lap 183 after contact with Brad Keselowski and was forced to pit for repairs. Unfortunately for the 22 team, they were not able to get the car repaired before the Damaged Vehicle Policy (DVP) expired, which forced Logano to the garage and ended his day. He would finish dead last (36th).
Stage and Final Race results:
Stage 1 Top-10: Byron, Larson, Chastain, Bell, Hamlin, Truex, Bowman, Wallace, Busch, Keselowski
Stage 2 Top-10: Byron, Larson, Bowman, Truex, Bell, Wallace, Chastain, Hamlin, Keselowski, Harvick
Top-10 Finishers: Byron, Larson, Bowman, Wallace, Bell, Cindric, Truex, Haley, Harvick, Suarez
Other Notes from the race:
• Chase Elliott missed this race and is expected to miss multiple weeks after a snowboarding accident in Colorado on Friday left him with a broken leg that required surgery. Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry filled in for Elliott in the 9 car and finished 29th.
• Alex Bowman’s third place finish was his third consecutive top-10 to start the season and he now sits in 2nd in Cup Series points behind only Ross Chastain.
• Kyle Larson led twice for 63 laps.
• Bubba Wallace was the highest finishing Toyota driver in 4th.
• Austin Cindric (6th) and Justin Haley (8th) took home surprise top-10 finishes after they made their way to the front on the final restart, powered by four fresh tires when most of the field only took 2 on the last stop.
The West Coast swing concludes in Phoenix next Sunday, where NASCAR will debut a new lower downforce aerodynamic package. Race will be broadcast on FOX at 3.30pm EST.