Hendrick Comes Up Aces, Sweeps Pennzoil 400
Byron, Larson, Bowman claim top three spots in wild overtime finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Hendrick Motorsports hit the ultimate jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, sweeping the top three spots in the Pennzoil 400, with William Byron edging out teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman to take the checkered flag.
The win, Byron’s first in nearly a year, marks the third 1-2-3 finish for Hendrick Motorsports at the Cup level.
“Our team has been through a lot of ups and down, but I knew we were capable of this,” the Charlotte native said in Victory Lane. “We spent a lot of time in the off season running in the sim, trying to get better – as a racecar driver and as a team. When we got back in traffic, it was a little bit tight, but we knew we had a fast car.”
Byron led 176 laps and won both stages, but the victory came down to a late-race restart and a strong performance from Byron’s pit crew. After the first two stages went caution free, pole-sitter Joey Logano brought out the first non-stage yellow of the day on Lap 184, relegating the Team Penske driver to a 40th-place finish.
The second racing-related caution of the day came with four laps remaining as Aric Almirola slapped the wall, erasing a three-second lead for Larson and bunching up the field for a green-white-checkered finish.
“It’s just part of Cup racing,” Larson said. “You count laps down lap by lap and then the yellow comes out. Their pit crew must have done a really good job. Bummer that we didn’t end up the winner, but all-in-all William probably had a little bit better car than I had today.”
After the final caution, Martin Truex Jr. stayed out on older tires, while the remaining contenders pitted for fresh Goodyear tires. Byron edged Larson off pit road, earning a front-row spot alongside Truex for a sprint to the finish.
On worn tires, Truex faded to a seventh-place finish. Despite the result, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said he didn’t question the strategy.
“You never know; you somehow get a good restart and get to the white flag and they wreck, you win the thing,” he said.
The 1-2-3 finish marked the end of a topsy-turvy week for Hendrick Motorsports. On Friday, the team announced that driver Chase Elliott had been injured in a snowboarding accident and would be unavailable to drive in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400. JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry was named the replacement driver, marking his first race in the Cup Series’ Next Gen car.
“It just shows the strength that our teams have and the ability our teams have to come together in tough situations,” Byron said. “I speak for everyone in the fact that we miss Chase out here. He’s a big contributor to feedback in our debriefs and he’s a great racecar driver. I think there was a void there, but I think we were able to fill it by just being able to come together as a team and in having Josh come on board. He’s obviously a great racecar driver too.”
NASCAR returns to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October for the NASCAR Playoffs and the South Point 400. For ticket information, full event schedules and all the latest, visit www.lvms.com.