William Byron wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports’ top driver, watched Sunday’s Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on television, but that didn’t stop the march of one of NASCAR’s top teams.
Hendrick driver William Byron shot to the lead on the first lap of overtime and stayed out front to win the 400-miler, the third points race of the season. Byron led 176 of the day’s 271 laps but almost lost the win to teammate Kyle Larson, who finished second.
Larson was leading and appeared to be in line to win the race when a crash by Aric Almirola brought out a caution with four laps to go and pushed the race to overtime. All of the leaders except Martin Truex Jr. pitted for right-side tires for the overtime dash.
A fast pit stop by Byron’s crew put him on track in front of Larson. Byron, 25, roared by Truex on the restart and won by .622 of a second to score his fifth career Cup win.
Chevrolet has won the first three points races of the year.
Larson was second, and Alex Bowman made the first three a Hendrick sweep. It marked the third time Hendrick drivers have finished one-two-three in a Cup race. Bubba Wallace was fourth and Christopher Bell fifth.
“We spent a lot of time in the off-season just going through running at the sim (simulator) with Chevy and running on iRacing and just trying to get better as a race car driver and as a team,” Byron told Fox Sports after the win. “It’s all about the team. It’s a great pit crew.”
Byron dominated the first two-thirds of the race, winning the first and second stages with ease. He led 152 of the race’s first 165 laps and was solidly in front across that stretch, rarely being challenged for the lead.
In the final stage, Larson took the lead as Denny Hamlin, Truex and Bowman also challenged Byron’s dominant stance.
Josh Berry, who substituted for Elliott after the No. 9’s driver suffered a broken leg in a snowboarding accident Friday, was not a factor at the front, finishing two laps down in 29th.
Pole winner Joey Logano had an assortment of issues. He was pushed into the wall and later, while racing Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, popped the wall again and slid across the track onto the grass separating the frontstretch from pit road. That accident produced the first non-stage caution of the race and sent Logano to the garage area.
Kyle Busch slapped the outside wall early in the race, damaging his No. 8 Chevrolet, but he continued to race in and around the top 10. Joey Logano was among other drivers who brushed the wall.
Stage 1 winner: William Byron
Stage 2 winner: William Byron
Who had a good race: William Byron had a sensational race. Rarely has a driver dominated at a 1.5-mile track the way Byron did Sunday. ... Kyle Larson saved the best for last, gaining strength over the final 100 miles.... Trackhouse Racing drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez showed strength for the third consecutive race, Suarez finishing 10th and Suarez 12th.
Who had a bad race: Joey Logano started from the pole spot but had a rough race day, eventually leaving the race after crashing into the outside wall and sliding onto the grass adjacent to the track. He finished last. ... Although Kevin Harvick raced into the top 10, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe struggled much of the afternoon.
Next: The Cup Series’ swing through the West continues with a March 12 race at Phoenix Raceway.