Hendrick Throwback Paint Scheme Works for Larson
(Las Vegas, NV - 07 Mar 2021 - RIS) In almost a reply of last week's victory by teammate William Byron, Kyle Larson drove the No. 5 Ricky Hendrick throwback painted Camaro to a dominating win at Las Vegas, leading 103 of the 267 laps in the Pennzoil 400. In his fourth race after a suspension last season, he continued the demonstration of ability he showed in running a series of sprint and midget races while going through the sensitivity training required by NASCAR after a 'slip of the tongue' during an online race last year.
Larson's victory gives Hendrick Motorsports a total of 265 wins, just three back of all-time leader Petty Enterprises
William Byron picked up at Las Vegas where he ended last week: leading the last race at Homestead and the first few laps at Las Vegas but Chase Elliott made it a Hendrick one-two-three with Byron, Kyle Larson and Elliott the top three, chased by Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin. Pole sitter Kevin Harvick faded from the start, reporting to the crew that the car was pushing badly.
Kyle Larson took the lead from Hamlin to lead from lap 44 until a caution for debris on the track flew the next lap. Just before the caution, Erik Jones made light contact with Kevin Harvick, putting a light ding in Harvick's left-front fender and cutting the tire. Larson and Logano were one-two at the restart, followed by Austin Dillon and Ricky ; leading several laps until Chase Elliott and then Keselowski took the front with Keselowski taking his first stage win of the 2021 season, followed by Elliott, Blaney, Hamlin and Bowman.
Hamlin and Keselowski headed the field to the green flag for the restart, with Keselowski and Ryan Blaney using the high line to take the top two positions.
Early laps of Stage Two looked like a Penske benefit, just like the earlier laps of Stage One looked like a Hendrick benefit, then Kyler Larson took the lead with William Byron following him into second until green flag pit stops started with Larson one of the early callers, leaving Byron to lead over Matt DiBenedetto.
Michael McDowell led nine laps late in the second stage before pitting and allowing Kyle Larson back into the lead with a gap of five seconds over Brad Keselowski, going on to take the stage over Keselowski, Hamlin, Byron and Blaney.
William Byron stalled leaving his pit after a stop and Larson headed the field to the restart, followed by Hamlin, Bowman, Truex and Christopher Bell starting the final stage.
Chase Elliott brought out the ninth caution of the race after just two racing laps with a spin and continue in the middle of the pack when two cars in front of Elliott apparently disturbed the air on Elliott's car. In the spin, Elliott's left front corner hit Kurt Busch's right rear, sending them both to the pits for some sheet metal repairs and fresh tires.
Larson and Hamlin led the field to the green flag with Hamlin taking advantage of a push from Truex to move ahead of Larson. Kyle Busch has raced up to the top pack in the field, after still not leading any laps all year so far.
A quick caution for Aric Almirola's flat left rear sent him hard into the first turn wall with the timing setting up multiple strategy calls by crew chiefs.
Truex, Blaney, Keselowski and Byron headed the race after the field had a couple of laps to settle in after the restart.
Daniel Suarez led for 12 laps thanks to pit strategy before Larson resumed the lead after the final scheduled round of pit stops. Larson was trailed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney but Busch was running the quickest laps of anyone in the top ten.
Larson's lead over Keselowski held steady for the last dozen laps at 3.3 seconds, whith a similar gap between Keselowski and Kyle Busch at the checkered flag.
"It was such an awesome race car. Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody did a great job preparing this piece," said Larson about the race. "It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I knew we had a really good car once we would kind of get single-filed out; but just drafting early in the run was tough. But thank you so much Mr. Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the amazing opportunity I've been gifted. This is definitely special.
"It [the win and paint scheme] means a lot. This is Rick's most special paint scheme, for obvious reasons." "And it's just an honor for me to be able to drive it in our first time out with this color scheme. Like I said, it's blessed. That was some fun racing on the re-starts, so I hope everybody enjoyed it. I know I did. I had fun racing Brad (Keselowski) and Denny (Hamlin) and everybody and tried to give it away there coming to a green flag stop; but thankfully we were able to have a good enough car to hold them all off." In the closing stages of the current Victory Lane procedures, Brad Keselowski walked up to congratulate Larson on the win and his comeback.
Kyle Busch commented that his team: "fought hard obviously. We were a little behind the eight ball at the start of the green flag and just were super, super tight all day long. Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the guys made awesome adjustments to and I was trying to give the best feedback I can to give them good information that they can base that off of and make the good adjustments. We improved each time. I don't know where we missed it so far from the simulator, but that's two weeks in a row where we're not apples to apples. Just can't say enough about Ethel M Chocolates, thank you guys. It's a pleasure to have them on board here for the first time ever in anything. I remember being there as a kid, a little bit anyways, I was five so it's a little shady. Certainly, my grandmother is smiling from above so it was really special to have that on our Camry today and say thanks to Interstate Batteries, Rowdy Energy. Ready to keep working on it and keep improving. We were just a little off on pace, overall pace, overall lap time from the fast guys."
Unofficial Results: 24th Annual Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, March 7, 2021, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 3, Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 267, , 1, 6, 103, 6, 50, Running
2) 10, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford, 267, 1, 2, 4, 27, 1, 54, Running
3) 14, Kyle Busch, No. 18 Ethel M Chocolates Toyota, 267, , 9, , , , 36, Running
4) 6, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, 267, 4, 3, 4, 47, , 48, Running
5) 26, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, 267, 3, 5, 1, 1, , 46, Running
6) 4, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Toyota, 267, 10, 8, 1, 6, , 35, Running
7) 16, Christopher Bell, No. 20 Craftsman Toyota, 267, 6, 7, , , , 39, Running
8) 2, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 267, 7, 4, 2, 25, , 40, Running
9) 15, Joey Logano, No. 22 Pennzoil Ford, 267, 9, , 2, 7, , 30, Running
10) 29, Erik Jones, No. 43 Medallion Bank Chevrolet, 267, , , , , , 27, Running
11) 17, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 267, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 12, Austin Dillon, No. 3 BetMGM Chevrolet, 267, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 8, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 267, 2, 10, 3, 22, , 34, Running
14) 18, Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 267, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 19, * Ryan Preece, No. 37 Natural Light Naturdays Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 30, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, 266, 8, , , , , 24, Running
17) 5, Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 266, , , 1, 9, , 20, Running
18) 13, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Wyndham Rewards Ford, 266, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 7, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 1, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford, 266, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 24, Chase Briscoe #, No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Ford, 266, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 11, Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Quartz Hill Records Chevrolet, 266, , , 1, 7, , 15, Running
23) 21, Ross Chastain, No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 27, Anthony Alfredo #, No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford, 266, , , 1, 1, , 13, Running
25) 20, Cole Custer, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford, 266, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 22, Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet, 265, , , 1, 12, , 11, Running
27) 9, Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 265, 5, 6, , , , 21, Running
28) 23, Bubba Wallace, No. 23 Columbia Sportswear Toyota, 262, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 25, Justin Haley(i), No. 77 Nations Guard Chevrolet, 262, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 34, BJ McLeod(i), No. 78 Surface Sunscreen Ford, 260, , , , , , 0, Running
31) 31, Garrett Smithley(i), No. 53 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet, 259, , , , , , 0, Running
32) 32, Cody Ware(i), No. 51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet, 259, , , , , , 0, Running
33) 36, Quin Houff, No. 00 8 Ball Whiskey Chevrolet, 256, , , , , , 4, Running
34) 37, Joey Gase, No. 15 NV Donor Network Chevrolet, 255, , , , , , 3, Running
35) 35, Josh Bilicki, No. 52 Dollar Loan Center Ford, 252, , , , , , 2, Running
36) 38, * Timmy Hill, No. 66 LasVegas.net Toyota, 246, , , , , , 0, Running
37) 33, Corey LaJoie, No. 7 Built Bar Chevrolet, 188, , , , , , 1, Rear End
38) 28, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Power Bites Ford, 178, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie
Time: 2 Hrs, 52 Mins, 7 Secs.
Race Length: 267 Laps, 400.5 Miles
Average Speed: 139.615 MPH
Margin of Victory: 3.156 Seconds
Stage 1 Top 10: 2, 9, 12, 11, 48, 20, 24, 21, 22, 19
Stage 2 Top 10: 5, 2, 11, 24, 12, 48, 20, 19, 18, 9
Comments: Kyle Larson won the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his seventh victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Caution Flags: 6 for 30 laps;
Laps: 27-30 (Competition );
47-51 (Debris Frontstretch );
82-87 (Stage 1 Conclusion );
162-167 (Stage 2 Conclusion );
171-174 (No. 9, 1 Incident Turn 2 );
180-184 (No. 10 Incident Turn 1 ).
Lead Changes: 27 among 12 drivers;
K. Harvick 0;
W. Byron 1-19;
C. Elliott 20-26;
K. Larson 27-30;
D. Hamlin 31-43;
K. Larson 44-52;
J. Logano 53;
B. Keselowski 54-55;
J. Logano 56-61;
C. Elliott 62-71;
B. Keselowski 72-73;
C. Elliott 74-78;
B. Keselowski 79-82;
R. Blaney 83;
D. Hamlin 84-87;
B. Keselowski 88-106;
K. Larson 107-123;
W. Byron 124-129;
T. Reddick 130-136;
M. McDowell 137-145;
A. Alfredo # 146;
K. Larson 147-169;
D. Hamlin 170-185;
M. Truex Jr. 186-191;
D. Hamlin 192-205;
K. Larson 206-225;
D. Suarez 226-237;
K. Larson 238-267.
Busch Pole Award: Kevin Harvick, No. 4
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Chase Briscoe, No. 14
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.