NASCAR Notebook: William Byron, Chevrolet Peers Driving Away with Manufacturers’ Championship; Josh Berry Struggles; Joey Logano Finishes Last

william byron chevrolet peers driving away early (1)

Chevrolets competing on the NASCAR Cup Series are flexing their collective muscles. 

And following Sunday’s 1-2-3 finish during the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports is posing like Mr. Universe. 

William Byron outsprinted Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman over the final two overtime laps, securing the checkered flag as the Hendrick teammates swept the top three stops for the third time in franchise history. 

Byron led for 176 laps and Larson enjoyed a big late lead, until the late caution. The two Chevy pilots dominated the field Sunday. 

It’s becoming more than a trend.  

One month into the 2023 schedule, Chevy is turning the NASCAR manufacturers’ championship into a joke. Chevrolet has compiled 120 points and three wins and Ford and Toyota each have 98. 

Week 1 at Daytona International Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the checkered flag, while Chevy peers Alex Bowman (fifth), AJ Allmendigner (sixth), Daniel Suarez (seventh) and Ross Chastain (ninth) all turned in top-10 runs.   

Week 2 at the Auto Club Speedway two-mile asphalt finale: Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Chastain and Suarez, all Chevy pilots, ran 1-2-3-4, placing six in the top nine. 

Chevy continued its front-pack runs into Stage 3 Sunday, the third race of the season. Byron, one of the few Chevy drivers who struggled the first two weeks with an average finish of 29.5, captured Stage 1 and Stage 2 points for the first time in his career. 

Five of the top 10 at Las Vegas drove for Chevrolet. 

Winners of back-to-back manufacturers’ championships after failing to win the previous five seasons, Chevy, which earned the coveted title each season from 2003-15, could be poised for another prolonged run.

Josh Berry Races In Back Subbing For Popular Chase Elliott

The timeline for Chase Elliott returning from a broken leg is unknown.

The Cup Series’ five-time most popular pilot is recovering from surgery Friday night following a snowboarding incident.

Berry, who placed fifth in the Xfinity Series’ Alsco Uniforms 300 on Saturday, competed in his first Cup race driving a Next Gen machine, which is radically different from Xfinity racers.

Before the Next Gen models were introduced in 2022, both series had nearly identical setups. The differences for substitute drivers were minor.

For Berry, the differences were drastic.

Of the more significant differences, Next Gen cars have five-speed sequential manual transmissions and independent rear suspensions. Xfinity cars maintain the traditional four-speed transmission.

Berry started 32nd and never challenged the front pack, driving two laps down after hitting the wall during Stage 2. He finished 29th.

With Elliott just starting his rehabilitation, will Berry get another chance to drive the No. 9 Chevrolet during the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway next Sunday?

Joey Logano Starts First, Finished Last At Las Vegas

Joey Logano generally thrives at Las Vegas, earning three wins and compiling an average finish of 8.5 in his initial 19 events. 

He crapped out on his 20th roll, suffering his first career DNF in Sin City. 

After starting on the pole, Logano dropped back, missed Stage 1 points and found himself racing three-wide with Brad Keselowski, the middleman, and Kyle Bush for 14th place. 

Logano couldn’t hold his outside lane, rubbing Brad Keselowski and crashing into the wall on Lap 183. It was the race’s first caution for cause.  

“I got squeezed up into the wall,” Logano told Fox Sports. “It is what it is. We were three-wide there for a lap, lap-and-a-half. Just got squeezed up. 

“A bad day got worse, unfortunately.” 

Logano finished last.

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