NASCAR Cup Series: William Byron Wins Big Roll In Vegas; Hendrick Motorsports Dominates Pennzoil 400

william bryonr captures las vegas race (1)

NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. rolled the dice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With old tires, the odds certainly were not in his favor, but crew chief James Small made the gamble.

As the field for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 prepared for the overtime spin by making pit stops, with most of the field’s pit crews changing two tires, Truex remained on the 1.5-mile track all alone, moving to the front.

Winless in his previous 46 Cup outings, Truex heard encouragement from the pits but understood with worn rubber his odds were long in attempting to hold off William Byron, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman over the extra two laps.

“We’ll see about it,” Truex said on team radio, via Fox Sports.

He didn’t like what he ended up seeing.

William Byron Benefits From Quick Pit Stop, Wins

Truex initially raced with Byron, but by Turn 3, Byron used his machine’s extra grip to propel past the short-time leader. Larson, who likely would have won in regulation, followed, along with Bowman, forming a 1-2-3 finish for Hendrick Motorsports.  

Truex, meanwhile, fell back to seventh.  

Byron, who benefited from a pit stop that was sixth-tenths of a second faster than Larson’s, beat his garage-mate out of pit lane and into the second spot behind Truex. 

Byron, who captured both Stage 1 and 2 points for the first time in his career, paced his outside run next to Truex, allowing his tread to take over. After passing the short-time leader, Byron held off Larson, avoided the last-lap mele and cruised to his fifth career victory. 

“It’s all about the team,” Byron told Fox Sports during a live post-race interview. “We knew we had speed. (crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) made the right call.” 

Which made Fugle feel a bit better. 

“Rudy has been under the weather all day,” Byron said. “Got the stomach bug. He’s been real quiet on the radio, but luckily it worked out.” 

Especially for Hendrick Motorsports, which captured the top three spots in a Cup event for the third time since 1984. The fourth member of the franchise, rookie Josh Berry, filled in for injured Chase Elliott and placed 29th. 

Byron led for 176 laps, Larson for 63 and Bowman two. The trio paced the field for 241 of 267 rotations. 

Kyle Larson Places Second After Slow Pit Stop

Larson credited his 2021 pit team for executing an 11.8-second pit stop, helping Larson move from fourth to first in the finale at Phoenix Raceway. Over the final 24 laps, Larson held off Truex for his first Cup points championship.

On Sunday, though, the pit crew didn’t have any major hiccups, but it wasn’t crisp.

By starting in the second row instead of the first, Larson knew he was “in trouble,” he said. “I felt William would get by him (Truex),” but getting by Byron, was different.

“William probably had a little better car than I today,” Larson said, adding, “their pit crew executed when they needed to at the end.”

Larson was disappointed upon learning the race would go into overtime after Aric Almirola spun out and hit the wall with two laps to go, creating the extra session.

With 26 laps to go, Larson led Byron by 4.39 seconds. When the Almirola crashed, he paced the field by around three seconds.

Oh, well.

“It’s just part of Cup racing,” Larson said.

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