Kyle Larson earns second straight Vegas NASCAR Cup victory

By | March 4, 2024

car mar 03 nascar cup series pennzoil 400 presented by jiffy lube

Larson records second straight Vegas Cup victoryIcon Sportswire – Getty Images

Based on the box score alone, you might think Kyle Larson dominated Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

You’d be wrong.

Yes, Larson led 181 of the 267 laps of the 2.4-mile track. Kyle Busch led second place: 18. And yes, Larson won the first two stages and took the checkered flag to secure his third victory in Las Vegas, with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski leading the pack among the full-time active Cup drivers .

The truth is that Larson had to use all his excellent skills behind the wheel to hold off Tyler Reddick after a restart with 27 laps to go. Larson had the speed in the short term, enough to build significant advantages early in a run.

But Reddick soon began closing the gap, so much so that with two laps to go, Reddick was just 0.143 seconds behind Larson at the line, about one car length.

However, Larson was adept at putting his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in position to block the progress of Reddick’s No. 45 23XI Toyota, and when the race ended two laps later, Larson had increased the margin to 0.441 seconds.

“I knew from the first stage that Tyler would be the man to beat,” said Larson, who won for the first time this season and the 24th time of his career. “He got there very quickly. I was hoping those guys would race behind me a little longer because I had a feeling there was going to be a timeout where he was running really fast and getting the tow to catch me at the end.

“Luckily I was able to block him for a few laps and get him tight. I thought he and (23XI teammate) Bubba (Wallace) were going to work together again to build a run, so I was happy that didn’t happen.

“But overall it was a great job by this Hendrick Cars Chevy team and just their execution, pit road and restarts, it was all great. Cool to get another win here in Vegas. Back-to-back, going through all the phases again. I can’t ask for much more.”

The final laps brought with them a familiar pattern that had developed throughout the race. In both the first and second stages, Reddick quickly closed in on Larson, but was unable to get close enough before the stages ended. The end of the race was déjà vu.

“Yeah, Kyle did a really good job there of taking away pretty much every option I had to close the gap,” said Reddick, whose cause was hurt by pit road issues, including a slide through his stall. “Yeah, he seemed pretty good in the middle, and I was obviously really good on the bottom. He just never let me have it.

nascar cup series pennzoil 400nascar cup series pennzoil 400

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Nasty Beast Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.Chris Graythen – Getty Images

“I kept trying to run higher and higher, and he was running right there in the middle of the track and was pretty efficient at blocking both lanes. Every time I got close, we ran just wide open enough in Turns 1 and 2 for him to defend pretty well. It’s frustrating. I feel like we never really got to the front all day until we reached the end of the stage.

The win was Larson’s second straight at Sin City and the 10th at LVMS for team owner Rick Hendrick, whose cars have won four straight spring races at the intermediate circuit.

It was Chevrolet’s third straight win to start the season.

Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney finished third, followed by Ross Chastain, who started from the back of the field due to an unapproved modification to his No. 1 Trackhouse Chevrolet (replacing a loose portion of the wrap on his car). Chastain also overcame a pit road speeding ticket, incurred during a green flag stop on lap 121.

Ty Gibbs rallied after an uncontrolled tire violation to finish fifth, followed by Noah Gragson, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, pole winner Joey Logano and DAYTONA 500 winner

William Byron, who fought back after a lap he lost trying to remove a large rubbish bag strapped to the nose of his car on the windy track.

Larson took the series lead from Busch, who finished 26th after receiving a penalty midway through the final stage for pitting outside his box. Blaney is second in the standings, eight points behind Larson. Busch dropped to sixth place, 23 points back.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas, Nevada

Sunday March 3, 2024

1. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.

2. (18) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 267.

3. (15) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.

4. (20) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 267.

5. (8) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 267.

6. (30) Noah Gragson, Ford, 267.

7. (7) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.

8. (28) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.

9. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.

10. (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.

11. (16) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 267.

12. (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.

13. (25) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.

14. (22) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267.

15. (14) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 267.

16. (19) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

17. (13) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 267.

18. (23) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.

19. (34) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 267.

20. (26) Josh Berry #, Ford, 267.

21. (6) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 267.

22. (27) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 267.

23. (36) Ryan Preece, Ford, 267.

24. (31) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 267.

25. (12) Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.

26. (21) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 267.

27. (35) Justin Haley, Ford, 267.

28. (33) Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 267.

29. (3) Austin Cindric, Ford, 267.

30. (29) Harrison Burton, Ford, 267.

31. (32) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 267.

32. (17) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 266.

33. (10) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 265.

34. (37) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 261.

35. (5) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 254.

36. (24) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 254.

37. (9) Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 27.

Average speed of race winner: 213.192 mph.

Race time: 3 hours, 0 minutes, 25 seconds. Winning margin: 0.441 seconds.

Warning flags: 6 for 35 laps.

Lead changes: 24 of 15 drivers.

Tour leaders: J. Logano 1-2;K. Larson 3-12; D. Hemmisch 13;C. Büscher 14-15;C. Briscoe 16;W. Byron 17-30; K. Larson 31;D. Suarez 32-42;K. Busch 43-60;K. Larson 61-84;M. Truex Jr. 85-88;D. Hamlin 89-104;K. Larson 105-119;R. Chastain 120;T. Reddick 121; K. Larson 122-158;A. Sagittarius 159-161;K. Larson 162-210; W. Byron 211;D. Suárez 212-215;M. McDowell 216-219;D. Kraus 220-221;K. Larson 222-239;R. Chastain 240; K. Larson 241-267.

Leader Summary (driver, lead times, laps led): Kyle Larson 8 times for 181 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 18 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 16 laps; William Byron 2 times for 15 laps; Daniel Suarez 2 times for 15 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 4 rounds; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 4 rounds; Alex Bowman 1 time for 3 rounds; Ross Chastain 2 times for 2 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 2 laps; Derek Kraus 1 time for 2 rounds; Chris Buescher 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Briscoe 1 time for 1 round; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 1 round; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 1 round.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,45,19,8,11,54,7,1,2,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,45,11,12,19,9,3,48,22,43

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