William Byron Heads Hendrick Motorsports 1-2-3 Sweep at Las Vegas

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV — March 5, 2023

The NASCAR Cup series is in Las Vegas this Sunday. However, the biggest racing news of the weekend came from 550 miles to the northeast on the ski slopes of Colorado. Chase Elliott broke the tibia in his left leg in a snowboarding accident.

Elliott underwent successful surgery and is expected to be out for an undeterminable number of weeks as he rehabs the leg. Josh Berry will fill in for Elliott today in the #9 car for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube.

Josh Berry (leaning on car) awaits the start of the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he subbed for Chase Elliott / NASCAR Photo

Berry drives in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports. In 65 starts, Berry has scored five wins in the second-tier national series.

Other Story Lines

Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch didn’t take much time finding Victory Lane with his new team. The Las Vegas native scored his 61st career win last weekend at Auto Club Speedway – in just his second start with RCR.

With the win, Busch is now the second driver to lock themselves into the Playoffs this season, joining JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the season-opening Daytona 500.

The Fontana victory also etched Busch’s name on another page of the series’ record books, bringing his consecutive seasons with a win total to 19 NASCAR Cup Series seasons (2005-2023), the most all-time, breaking the tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (18 seasons, 1960-1977).

This weekend, Busch returns to his home track, looking to keep the early season momentum going. Busch has made 23 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, putting up two poles, one win, 11 top fives, and 14 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.5-mile track is 10.8 – third-best among active drivers.

If you thought Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain’s success last season was a fluke – think again. The Florida native is full throttle this season, and following a dominant performance at Auto Club Speedway, he now leads the NASCAR Cup Series point standings by one point over Team Penske’s Joey Logano in second – this is the first time Chastain has held the series’ point standings lead in his career.

Today’s Race

The Pennzoil 400, presented by Jiffy Lube, will consist of 267 laps over the 1.5-mile with Stages set for 80/85/102 laps. Alex Bowman is the defending champion of the race.

Ford Mustang drivers dominate the active winner’s list at Las Vegas, with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano holding three each.

Active Las Vegas Race Winners Wins Seasons
Brad Keselowski* 3 2018, 2016, 2014
Joey Logano* 3 2022, 2020, 2019
Kevin Harvick* 2 2018, 2015
Martin Truex Jr 2 2019, 2017
Alex Bowman 1 2022
Denny Hamlin 1 2021
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Kyle Busch 1 2009

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Logano sits on the pole for today’s race with a speed of 186.053 mph. William Byron starts beside Logano after posting a lap just a tic slower at 185.153 mph.

In true Vegas style, headliner ventriloquist Terry Fator, the winner of season two of America’s Got Talent, will perform the national anthem.

The Start

Showing the pole-winning speed of his Ford Mustang, Joey Logano(22) ran away from the field at the drop of the green flag. But, nine laps in, William Byron(24) drove by to take over the top spot.

The start of the Pennzoil 400, presented by Jiffy Lube / NASCAR Photo

Stage One

Tire fall-off is a problem at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney(22) became the first of the leaders to pit on lap 34. By lap 40, all but five of the 36 starters visited the pit road for fresh Goodyear tires.

Kyle Busch(8), who brushed the wall early in the race, had his car checked by his crew during his pit stop.

When all the cars had cycled through their first service stop, Byron returned to the lead. Kyle Larson(5), Ross Chastain(1), Christopher Bell(20), and Denny Hamlin(11) made up the remainder of the top five.

1 24 William Byron 10
2 5 Kyle Larson 9
3 1 Ross Chastain 8
4 20 Christopher Bell 7
5 11 Denny Hamlin 6
6 19 Martin Truex Jr. 5
7 48 Alex Bowman 4
8 23 Bubba Wallace 3
9 8 Kyle Busch 2
10 6 Brad Keselowski* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage Two

Stage-ending pit stops resulted in a slight change in the top five. Byron and Larson retained the top two spots. Hamlin, Chastain, and Martin Trux Jr. followed as they chose lanes for the restart.

The pole-sitter Logano restarts 14th, and Josh Berry(9), subbing for Elliott, is the first driver a lap down in 24th.

Byron quickly pulled away when racing resumed, and Larson held off a charge by Hamlin to hold second. Hamlin overheated his tires trying to make the pass for second, allowing Bell, Martin Truex Jr.(19), and Alex Bowman(48) to move by.

Tire wear seemed to improve as race cars put down more rubber on the race track. This delayed the timing of pit stops in Stage Two. Until Truex became the first of the leaders to pit on lap 124. All the field completed pit stops within the next three laps. With Byron and Larson returning to the front.

While there was some movement up and down the leaderboard, the top two remained consistent to the end of the Stage.

Stage Two Results

1 24 William Byron 10
2 5 Kyle Larson 9
3 48 Alex Bowman 8
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 7
5 20 Christopher Bell 6
6 23 Bubba Wallace 5
7 1 Ross Chastain 4
8 11 Denny Hamlin 3
9 6 Brad Keselowski* 2
10 4 Kevin Harvick* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Different Stage, same results. Byron and Larson into the pits one-two. Off of pit road one-two. So far, the only cautions in the race have been to end the Stages.

It did not take long in Stage Three for that to change. Three-wide racing off turn four saw Keselowski, in the middle, slide up into Logano on the outside. He taps Logano sending the #22 car into a spin down the front oval grass on lap 182.

Despite having stopped just a few laps previously, everyone came to pit road for fresh Goodyear rubber. That did shuffle the cars at the front of the pack. Hamlin was the new leader, with Truex in second, followed by Bowman, Larson, and Chastain.

The damage to Logano’s car forced him to retire to the garage.

With 71 laps to go, Larson took over the top spot. Byron was back in traffic fighting for third with teammate Bowman.

Pit stops began with 47 laps to go. Hamlin was the first in for service, trying to gain an advantage on Larson. However, when all the leader’s stops had been completed, it was still Larson first, Hamlin second.

The Finish

As the laps wound down, Byron worked his way around Hamlin. With 25 laps to go, the interval between Larson and Byron was almost five seconds. Clean air on the front of these next-generation cars is vital. Byron cut the lead interval but could not catch Larson.

Aric Almirola(10) threw the entire race into a two-lap sprint for the win when he crashed with four laps to go bringing on NASCAR overtime.

Everyone but Truex pitted for fresh tires. Byron, first off of pit road after changing two tires, lined up next to Truex on the front row. When the green flag waved, Truex tried to hang in with older rubber but could not maintain the grip through the corners allowing Byron to pull away.

AJ Allmendinger spun on the back stretch after the field took the white flag. The race stayed under green, but no one had anything for Byron. Larson finished second and Bowman third giving Hendrick Motorsports the one-two-three finish.

Byron led a race-high 176 laps, including the most important one.

Playoff Standings

1 Kyle Busch 92 In-Win
2 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 86 In-Win
3 William Byron 85 In-Win
4 Ross Chastain 129 +60
5 Alex Bowman 126 +57
6 Kevin Harvick* 108 +39
7 Daniel Suarez 104 +35
8 Martin Truex Jr. 102 +33
9 Denny Hamlin 99 +30
10 Christopher Bell 94 +25
11 Joey Logano* 92 +23
12 Chris Buescher* 90 +21
13 Brad Keselowski* 87 +18
14 Kyle Larson 85 +16
15 Ryan Blaney* 81 +12
16 Bubba Wallace 69 Tie
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Austin Cindric* 69 Tie
18 Corey LaJoie 68 -1
19 AJ Allmendinger 54 -15
20 Ty Gibbs 53 -16
21 Aric Almirola* 52 -17
22 Michael McDowell* 52 -17
23 Justin Haley 50 -19
24 Chase Elliott 49 -20
25 Harrison Burton* 46 -23

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube from Las Vegas Motor Speedway

1 24 William Byron 271
2 5 Kyle Larson 0.622 271
3 48 Alex Bowman 0.766 271
4 23 Bubba Wallace 0.866 271
5 20 Christopher Bell 1.173 271
6 2 Austin Cindric 1.385 271
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 1.390 271
8 31 Justin Haley 1.463 271
9 4 Kevin Harvick 1.631 271
10 99 Daniel Suarez 1.800 271
11 11 Denny Hamlin 2.103 271
12 1 Ross Chastain 2.110 271
13 12 Ryan Blaney 2.184 271
14 8 Kyle Busch 2.376 271
15 45 Tyler Reddick 2.588 271
16 10 Aric Almirola 15.030 271
17 6 Brad Keselowski 40.282 271
18 16 AJ Allmendinger 98.924 271
19 43 Erik Jones -1 270
20 7 Corey LaJoie -1 270
21 17 Chris Buescher -1 270
22 54 Ty Gibbs -1 270
23 41 Ryan Preece -1 270
24 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -1 270
25 34 Michael McDowell -1 270
26 21 Harrison Burton -2 269
27 3 Austin Dillon -2 269
28 14 Chase Briscoe -2 269
29 9 Josh Berry -2 269
30 42 Noah Gragson -2 269
31 38 Todd Gilliland -3 268
32 78 BJ McLeod -5 266
33 15 JJ Yeley -6 265
34 77 Ty Dillon -6 265
35 51 Cody Ware -12 259
36 22 Joey Logano -88 183