Alex Bowman Duels Kyle Larson and Wins NASCAR Cup Race at Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, NV – RIS – Kyle Busch was driving along with a good lead with three laps to go in the NASCAR Cup series, and then it happened.  A spin brought out a final caution flag and after pit stops, found himself in fourth position and a race to the finish in overtime.  As luck would have it, the three cars in front of him were very good drivers.  In the end, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, and Ross Chastain finished ahead of him, but before that ending, a competitive race could not overshadow Busch’s monumental road to a top five performance.

Bowman’s crew was one of three Hendrick Motorsports teams to call for a two-tire pit stop during the final caution of the day, joining teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron. Larson chose the outside of the front row for the restart. Bowman chose the inside. The two dueled side-by-side during the final two laps but Bowman edged ahead entering Turn 3 to claim his first victory of 2022.

“This thing was so fast all day. Just never really had the track position we needed to show it,” Bowman told Fox Sports. “Man, what a call by Greg Ives and the guys to take two there. Obviously, it paid off.”

The duel was a showdown between Hendrick teammates for the second week in a row. Last week at Auto Club Speedway, Larson and Chase Elliott were in a three-wide battle for the lead with 20 laps to go when Larson dove high for a late block. The contact put Elliott into the wall before he spun laps later, necessitating a word from owner Rick Hendrick during this week’s competition meeting.  Nothiong like that happened today.

Busch rallied from myriad troubles this weekend, triggered first by a crash in practice that forced the team to use a backup car. That car was meant to be a parts car, according to Fox Sports, and was completely unprepared to race before Busch’s crash. The team turned it into a car that led 49 laps, even after an early-race spin and shifter issues.

“True testament to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said. “Really appreciate the (No.) 18 guys, my guys, but also the 11, 19 and 20, all of them for coming over and pitching in. Everybody had a hand in making us go today so I really appreciate that.”

Filling out the top five behind Bowman and Larson were Ross Chastain, Busch and William Byron. The top 10 was rounded out by Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Truex, Elliott and pole-sitter Christopher Bell.

This race was not pretty.  The 12 cautions displayed Sunday tied the 2018 playoff race at Las Vegas for the second-most in track history.

Bowman won the first stage, and a charging Chastain won the second.  At times, it appeared that Chastain’s Chevrolet was dominant, but it came down to that final overtime.  Busch was boxed in by the Chevrolets and could not advance.

In the Ford camp, Aric Almirola came away from Vegas with a sixth-place finish.  It was his third top 10 of 2022, the only driver to notch such results in each of the first three races.

The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Avondale, Arizona and Phoenix Raceway for the next chapter in the 2022 season.  

Unofficial Results, 25th Annual Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, Sunday, March 6, 2022, Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Fin, St, Driver, Car, Laps , St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 13, Alex Bowman, 48, Ally Chevrolet, 274, 1, 3, 16, 6, , 50, Running
2) 2, Kyle Larson, 5, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 274, 6, 3, 27, , 3, 48, Running
3) 18, Ross Chastain, 1, ACM Awards Chevrolet, 274, 3, 3, 83, 1, 1, 52, Running
4) 37, Kyle Busch, 18, Ethel M Chocolates Toyota, 274, 9, 3, 49, , 5, 41, Running
5) 14, William Byron, 24, Axalta Chevrolet, 274, 2, 1, 8, , 4, 48, Running
6) 20, Aric Almirola, 10, Mobil 1 Ford, 274, , , , , , 31, Running
7) 7, Tyler Reddick, 8, BetMGM Chevrolet, 274, , , , , , 30, Running
8) 12, Martin Truex Jr., 19, Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 274, , 1, 1, , 6, 34, Running
9) 5, Chase Elliott, 9, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 274, 5, , , , 2, 43, Running
10) 1, Christopher Bell, 20, DeWalt Toyota, 274, 10, 1, 32, , , 28, Running
11) 10, Austin Dillon, 3, BREZTRI Chevrolet, 274, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 25, Kevin Harvick, 4, Rheem Smurfit Kappa Ford, 274, , , , , 8, 28, Running
13) 31, Kurt Busch, 45, Monster Energy Toyota, 274, , 1, 4, , , 24, Running
14) 6, Joey Logano, 22, Pennzoil Ford, 274, , , , , 7, 27, Running
15) 29, Corey LaJoie, 7, Schluter Systems Chevrolet, 274, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 19, Harrison Burton #, 21, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, 274, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 28, Justin Haley, 31, LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 274, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 27, Chris Buescher, 17, Wyndham Rewards Ford, 274, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 3, Austin Cindric #, 2, Discount Tire Ford, 274, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 32, Ty Dillon, 42, Goettl Air Conditioning Chevrolet, 274, , 1, 1, , , 17, Running
21) 9, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 47, SunnyD Chevrolet, 274, , 1, 4, , , 16, Running
22) 16, Daniel Hemric(i), 16, South Point Chevrolet, 274, , , , , , 0, Running
23) 30, Todd Gilliland #, 38, Frontline Enterprises Inc. Ford, 274, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 15, Brad Keselowski, 6, Fastenal Ford, 273, , 1, 3, , , 13, Running
25) 17, Bubba Wallace, 23, Dr Pepper Cream Soda Toyota, 273, , , , , 10, 13, Running
26) 33, Cody Ware, 51, Nurtec ODT Ford, 273, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 22, Michael McDowell, 34, Stage Front Ford, 273, , 1, 4, , , 10, Running
28) 35, BJ McLeod, 78, Filtertime Ford, 272, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 34, Josh Bilicki(i), 77, Ziegler Auto Group Chevrolet, 271, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 36, Garrett Smithley, 15, Trophy Tractor Ford, 267, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 23, Erik Jones, 43, FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, 264, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 8, Denny Hamlin, 11, FedEx Freight Toyota, 219, 4, 2, 31, , 9, 14, Drivetrain
33) 24, Cole Custer, 41, HaasTooling.com Ford, 171, , , , , , 4, Engine
34) 26, * Greg Biffle, 44, Florida A&M University Chevrolet, 148, , 1, 1, , , 3, Fuel Pump
35) 4, Chase Briscoe, 14, Mahindra Tractors Ford, 135, 8, , , , , 5, Accident
36) 11, Ryan Blaney, 12, Menards/Pennzoil Ford, 104, 7, 1, 10, , , 5, Accident
37) 21, Daniel Suarez, 99, CommScope Chevrolet, 92, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#)Rookie

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 29 Mins, 50 Secs.
Race Length: 274 Laps: 411. Miles
Average Speed: 117.522 MPH
Margin of Victory: .178 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 48, 24, 1, 11, 9, 5, 12, 14, 18, 20
Stage 2 Top 10: 1, 9, 5, 24, 18, 19, 22, 4, 11, 23

Comments: Alex Bowman won the Pennzoil presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his seventh career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Prior to the start, the following cars dropped to the rear under penalty for the reasons indicated: No. 18 (backup car), and No. 8, 16 and 41 (unapproved adjustments).

Cautions: 12 for 60 laps;
Laps: 32-35 (Competition Caution [44]);
39-42 (No. 41 Spin in Turn 2 [77]);
44-47 (No. 3, 16, 18 and 31 Incident on the Backstretch [41]);
65-68 (No. 8 Spin in Turn 4 [78]);
82-87 (Stage 1 Conclusion [15]);
94-97 (No. 14 and 99 Incident on the Frontstretch [None]);
105-109 (No. 6 and 12 Incident in Turn 4 [None]);
136-139 (No. 2, 14 and 21 Incident in Turn 4 [16]);
143-147 (No. 20 Spin on the Backstretch [2]);
167-174 (Stage 2 Conclusion [20]);
222-226 (No. 11 Stalled in Turn 2 [24]);
266-272 (No. 23 and 43 Incident on the Frontstretch [17]).

Lead Changes: 23 among 15 drivers;
C. Bell 1-32;
R. Blaney 33-42;
A. Bowman 43-49;
D. Hamlin 50-65;
K. Busch 66-69;
W. Byron 70-77;
A. Bowman 78-83;
M. McDowell 84-87;
B. Keselowski 88-90;
D. Hamlin 91-105;
K. Busch 106-112;
R. Chastain 113-136;
*. Biffle 137;
K. Larson 138-159;
R. Chastain 160-217;
K. Larson 218;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 219-222;
T. Dillon 223;
K. Busch 224-225;
R. Chastain 226;
K. Busch 227-266;
M. Truex Jr. 267;
K. Larson 268-271;
A. Bowman 272-274.

Busch Pole Award:  Christopher Bell, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, 182.673 mph

Unofficial Points Report
Rank, Driver, Car, Starts, GL, Points, Ldr, Nxt, Race Wins, Stage Wins, Playoff Pts
1) Kyle Larson, No. 5, 3, 7, 113, 0, 0, 1, 0, 5
2) Martin Truex Jr., No. 19, 3, 1, 107, -6, 6, 0, 2, 2
3) Joey Logano, No. 22, 3, -1, 104, -9, 3, 0, 0, 0
4) Austin Cindric #, No. 2, 3, -3, 103, -10, 1, 1, 0, 5
5) Kyle Busch, No. 18, 3, 6, 102, -11, 1, 0, 0, 0
6) Aric Almirola, No. 10, 3, 1, 97, -16, 5, 0, 0, 0
7) Chase Elliott, No. 9, 3, 12, 88, -25, 9, 0, 0, 0
8) Alex Bowman, No. 48, 3, 17, 80, -33, 8, 1, 1, 6
9) Bubba Wallace, No. 23, 3, -1, 78, -35, 2, 0, 0, 0
10) Austin Dillon, No. 3, 3, 5, 78, -35, 0, 0, 0, 0
11) Kurt Busch, No. 45, 3, 1, 77, -36, 1, 0, 0, 0
12) Brad Keselowski, No. 6, 3, -2, 77, -36, 0, 0, 0, 0
13) Ryan Blaney, No. 12, 3, -9, 75, -38, 2, 0, 0, 0
14) Chase Briscoe, No. 14, 3, -9, 74, -39, 1, 0, 0, 0
15) Erik Jones, No. 43, 3, -9, 74, -39, 0, 0, 0, 0
16) Kevin Harvick, No. 4, 3, 4, 69, -44, 5, 0, 0, 0
17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47, 3, -4, 69, -44, 0, 0, 0, 0
18) Tyler Reddick, No. 8, 3, 3, 68, -45, 1, 0, 2, 2
19) Ty Dillon, No. 42, 3, -2, 63, -50, 5, 0, 0, 0
20) Ross Chastain, No. 1, 3, 15, 62, -51, 1, 0, 1, 1
21) William Byron, No. 24, 3, 12, 62, -51, 0, 0, 0, 0
22) Chris Buescher, No. 17, 3, 0, 56, -57, 6, 0, 0, 0
23) Michael McDowell, No. 34, 3, -5, 55, -58, 1, 0, 0, 0
24) Corey LaJoie, No. 7, 3, -1, 54, -59, 1, 0, 0, 0
25) Daniel Suarez, No. 99, 3, -10, 53, -60, 1, 0, 0, 0
26) Cole Custer, No. 41, 3, -10, 52, -61, 1, 0, 0, 0
27) Justin Haley, No. 31, 3, 0, 48, -65, 4, 0, 0, 0
28) Todd Gilliland #, No. 38, 3, -4, 44, -69, 4, 0, 0, 0
29) Christopher Bell, No. 20, 3, 7, 38, -75, 6, 0, 0, 0
30) Denny Hamlin, No. 11, 3, 0, 38, -75, 0, 0, 0, 0
31) Cody Ware, No. 51, 3, -3, 36, -77, 2, 0, 0, 0
32) Harrison Burton #, No. 21, 3, 2, 34, -79, 2, 0, 0, 0
33) BJ McLeod, No. 78, 3, -4, 34, -79, 0, 0, 0, 0
34) David Ragan, No. , 1, -8, 29, -84, 5, 0, 0, 0
35) Garrett Smithley, No. 15, 2, -4, 23, -90, 6, 0, 0, 0
36) Jacques Villeneuve,  , 1, -4, 15, -98, 8, 0, 0, 0
37) •Greg Biffle, No. 44, 2, 5, 4, -109, 11, 0, 0, 0
38) Daniel Hemric(i), No. 16, 3, -1, 0, -113, 4, 0, 0, 0
39) Landon Cassill(i),  , 1, -1, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
40) Kaz Grala(i),  , 1, -1, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
41) Josh Bilicki(i), No. 77, 2, -1, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
42) Noah Gragson(i), , 1, -1, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
43) Jj Yeley(i), , 0, 0, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
44) Timmy Hill(i), , 0, 0, 0, -113, 0, 0, 0, 0
 -Ldr/-Nxt = Points behind Leader/Next higher, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2022, Issue 3, Posted 8:33 PM, 03.06.2022