Kyle Larson Runs away from Everyone at NASCAR Las Vegas Cup Race

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV — March 3, 2024

After two weeks of SuperSpeedway racing, the NASCAR Cup Series comes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile circuit is similar to many tracks on which NASCAR’s premier series competes. It will be interesting to see how the cars and drivers respond to no-pack racing and that the need for handling is more significant to their ability to compete than the raw speed the car might display.

One thing that is the same, for the third week in a row Joey Logano earned a position on the front row to start the race. Logano won the pole at Daytona and qualified second at Atlanta before a penalty forced him to the rear of the field. He will start on the pole here in Vegas.

Joey Logano has three career victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and those wins have helped make the track one of his best on the circuit statistically. Logano sports a 10.0 average finish in 21 career starts, which is the same average he has in 29 appearances at Richmond Raceway. Besides his three Vegas victories, Logano has seven top-fives and 12 top-10 finishes since joining the series in 2009.

According to Logano, “Some of the big things at Las Vegas are just understanding the bumps down in one and two. What’s OK and what’s too much? Even three and four, a little bit there. Restarts have changed drastically from how we used to restart there to what it is now as a driver. And really just the balance of where the car goes on the long run compared to what it used to be is different too. The details of where the car goes on the long run and all those things are quite a bit different.”

Today’s Race

Starting from the pole, Logano will have Kyle Larson sitting next to him on the front row. Both drivers have a teammate lining up behind them as Austin Cindric and William Byron start in row two. Byron is the defending champion of the race.

The 400 miles will require 267 laps to make that distance. Stages are set for 80/85/102 laps. The fuel window is approximately 60-65 laps. However, drivers may be looking for tires after 30 circuits of the speedway. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is abrasive and wears tires down at a faster rate than many other tracks.

Stage One

Joey Logano(22) quickly jumped ahead of Kyle Larson(5) and led the first lap. The next time around, Larson took over the top spot. The Daytona 500 Champion, William Byron(24) inserted himself into the battle for the lead passing Logano.

On lap nine, Christopher Bell(20) cut down a right rear tire after minor contact with the outside wall. The caution flag displayed for the first time on the afternoon. Most of the field took the opportunity to visit pit road for service.

Chase Briscoe(14) and Chris Buescher(17) led the field back to the green flag restart. A big run from Byron brought him from eighth to the front, and Larson worked his way through traffic to join his teammate leading the pack.

On lap 26, Buescher had the right front wheel come off his Ford Mustang. He crashed hard into the turn-one wall. The replay of the incident, cleary showed the lug nut flying off first and then the wheel followed. His crew failed to get the single lug nut tight on their pit stop and will be penalized by NASCAR for the infraction.

The impact resulted in severe damage to Buescher’s car, retiring him from the event. It also created a hole in the safer barrier, requiring NASCAR to red-flag the race and bring in a welder to repair the wall with a metal patch.

Daniel Suarez(99), Michael McDowell(34), and John Hunter Nemechek(42) did not pit during the caution and will be out front heading to the green flag for the restart.

Byron and Larson quickly returned to the front. Joined this time by Kyle Busch(8). Byron caught a bad break as a large black garbage bag flew up and covered the front grille of his car. The engine began to overheat, and his crew brought him to pit road to remove the radiator’s air flow obstruction. Byron lost a lap in the process.

Tyler Reddick(45) moved up to replace Byron in the lead group. Martin Truex Jr.(19) drove past Busch to take the eight points awarded for a third-place Stage finish away from Kyle Busch.

Stage One Results

1 5 Kyle Larson 10
2 45 Tyler Reddick 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 8
4 8 Kyle Busch 7
5 11 Denny Hamlin 6
6 54 Ty Gibbs 5
7 7 Corey LaJoie 4
8 1 Ross Chastain 3
9 2 Austin Cindric* 2
10 20 Christopher Bell 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

When the Stage ending caution flew, Byron was the first driver a lap down and he got the free pass to return to the lead lap.

Stage Two

After the Stage-ending pit stops, Truex and Hamlin restarted on the front row, with Larson and Corey Lajoie(7) lining up behind them.

Hamlin fired off like he had been shot out of a cannon, putting some space between himself and Larson, who moved to the second spot.

Kyle Busch returned to the lead pack in third, LaJoie held onto the fourth spot, while Truex slid to fifth. Ryan Blaney, Ty Gibbs(54), Ross Chastain(1), Christopher Bell, and Alex Bowman(48) rounded out the top ten.

Larson returned to the lead on lap 105 as crews began to shuffle around, anticipating the cars visiting the pit road.

Green flag pit stops began just before lap 40 in Stage Two (lap 120 of the race). Everyone took the opportunity to come in for service over the next few laps. Bad news for Chastain and Austin Cindric(2). Both drivers were caught speeding on the pit road and had to return for a drive-thru penalty, putting them a lap down to the field.

After stops cycled through, Larson was back out front. Followed by Busch, Hamlin, Blaney, and Gibbs.

The race reached the halfway point. William Byron, the lucky dog from the end of Stage One, started Stage Two in 34th position. With 125 laps to go, Byron had worked his way back up to 15th.

With 15 laps to go in Stage Two, Larson had extended his lead to four seconds over Busch in second.

Nine laps from the finish of Stage Two, Bell got loose and spun off turn two. The caution will set up a rush to pit road to prep from a short sprint to the green and white checkered flag.

Ty Gibbs’ crew had a tire roll out of their pit during their stop. The penalty for an uncontrolled tire? Return to the pit road for a stop and go in their pit stall. To add insult to injury, Gibbs reported he had lost first gear in the car. A mistake and mechanical misfortune may have ruined his potential for a top-five finish.

Alex Bowman(48) led the pack back to the green flag. But, he could not hold off a charge by Larson as the pack went five-wide behind the leaders trying to cash in on Stage points.

Larson sweeps the race’s two Stages. However, the checkered flag he really wants to see is the black and white one on lap 267.

Stage Two Results

1 5 Kyle Larson 10
2 45 Tyler Reddick 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 12 Ryan Blaney* 7
5 19 Martin Truex Jr. 6
6 9 Chase Elliott 5
7 3 Austin Dillon 4
8 48 Alex Bowman 3
9 22 Joey Logano* 2
10 43 Erik Jones 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Bubba Wallace(23) suffered his own mechanical misfortune when his crew had to cut off a seized lugnut on his car. Wallace lost 13 laps in the pits while the repair was made.

The Final Stage

Having just pitted on the caution for Christopher Bell’s spin, the leaders stayed out during the Stage-ending caution.

When the race restarted, Larson, looking like the class of the field, again drove to the front. Quickly establishing a two-second interval between himself and Reddick in second.

Pit stops started with 65 laps to go as some teams opted to split the Final Stage into thirds due to tire wear.

Larson pitted with 56 laps to go. He returned to the lead when all stops were complete.

Corey LaJoie lost control in turn two with 33 laps to go and spun. Everyone will take the opportunity to pit under caution and prep for the final stretch to the checkers.

The Finish

Lining up for the restart with 27 laps to go, the top ten looked like this

Larson, Chastain, Reddick, Blaney, Hamlin, Logano, Chase Elliott(9), Truex, Bowman, and remarkably the wounded car of Ty Gibbs.

As Larson drove away at the front, the contenders fought three and four wide jockeying for positions. With 20 laps to go, Larson was in the lead by a full second.

With 10 laps to go, Larson and Reddick separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Reddick had cut the deficit to a half-second. Throw a blanket over the next five cars as they fight for positions three to seven.

Three laps to go, and Reddick had closed to Larson’s rear bumper. But really, Larson’s win was never in doubt. He managed his position on the track relative to his opponent and kept Reddick at bay.

Larson Wins at Las Vegas / NASCAR Photo

Credit Ty Gibbs with a solid finish, bringing home a broken transmission in the fifth position.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

1 Kyle Larson 118 1 In Win
2 William Byron 103 1 In Win
3 Daniel Suarez 90 1 In Win
4 Ryan Blaney* 110 0 +44
5 Martin Truex Jr. 104 0 +38
6 Ross Chastain 98 0 +32
7 Kyle Busch 95 0 +29
8 Chase Elliott 95 0 +29
9 Ty Gibbs 87 0 +21
10 Denny Hamlin 87 0 +21
11 Austin Cindric* 86 0 +20
12 Tyler Reddick 84 0 +18
13 Alex Bowman 82 0 +16
14 Bubba Wallace 76 0 +10
15 Erik Jones 71 0 +5
16 John Hunter Nemechek* 68 0 +2
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Corey LaJoie 66 0 -2
18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 64 0 -4
19 Daniel Hemric 58 0 -10
20 Chase Briscoe* 53 0 -15
21 Christopher Bell 52 0 -16
22 Michael McDowell* 52 0 -16
23 Chris Buescher* 50 0 -18
24 Joey Logano* 48 0 -20
25 Carson Hocevar 48 0 -20

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the Pennzoil 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

1 5 Kyle Larson 267
2 45 Tyler Reddick 267
3 12 Ryan Blaney 267
4 1 Ross Chastain 267
5 54 Ty Gibbs 267
6 10 Noah Gragson 267
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 267
8 11 Denny Hamlin 267
9 22 Joey Logano 267
10 24 William Byron 267
11 99 Daniel Suarez 267
12 9 Chase Elliott 267
13 6 Brad Keselowski 267
14 43 Erik Jones 267
15 77 Carson Hocevar 267
16 3 Austin Dillon 267
17 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 267
18 48 Alex Bowman 267
19 31 Daniel Hemric 267
20 4 Josh Berry 267
21 14 Chase Briscoe 267
22 42 John Hunter Nemechek 267
23 41 Ryan Preece 267
24 38 Todd Gilliland 267
25 34 Michael McDowell 267
26 8 Kyle Busch 267
27 51 Justin Haley 267
28 16 Derek Kraus 267
29 2 Austin Cindric 267
30 21 Harrison Burton 267
31 15 Kaz Grala 267
32 7 Corey LaJoie 266
33 20 Christopher Bell 265
34 44 J.J. Yeley 261
35 23 Bubba Wallace 254
36 71 Zane Smith 254
37 17 Chris Buescher 27