The Washington Post

Byron wins as Hendrick Motorsport­s dominates in Las Vegas


las vegas — One way or another, a Hendrick Motorsport­s driver figured to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kyle Larson nearly won the Pennzoil 400 in regulation, but a late caution put teammate William Byron in position to capture the checkered flag in overtime.

Byron took the lead on the second-to-last lap of overtime to put an exclamatio­n mark on a dominant day for Hendrick. The top three drivers were from Hendrick, with Byron, Larson and Alex Bowman pushing their Chevrolets across the finish line in that order. Bowman won last year’s March race at Las Vegas.

Byron led 176 laps and won for the fifth time in his six Cup Series seasons.

“I’ve led a lot of laps in a couple of races, but to be this good with this team is definitely a good sign,” Byron said. “It’s a different feeling for me having a team around me that can execute that well. That’s just a team effort.”

Larson appeared headed for victory when Aric Almirola hit the wall on Lap 264, leading to the second caution of the day.

“I feel like I could have eight or 10 more Cup wins if it wasn’t for cautions in the last five laps,” Larson said. “I don’t remember many of those working out in my favor.”

Most of the leaders pitted a lap later, with only Martin Truex Jr. choosing to stay out. Byron came out of pit road ahead of Larson and then easily overtook Truex after the restart.

Byron, who started in the first row with Joey Logano, swept both stages for the first time in his career. Truex in 2017 and Kevin Harvick in 2018 also won both stages in Las Vegas and went on to win.

Logano, the defending series champion who won the Las Vegas race in October, hit the wall on Lap 183, ending his day. He was running three-wide with Brad Keselowski in the middle and Kyle Busch on the apron when Logano bumped into Keselowski, sending his car into the wall.

“I’m sure [Keselowski] didn’t mean to do it,” Logano said. “What are you going to do, right? We got fenced.”

It was a tough day all around for Logano, who was running 15th after starting on the pole.

“Considerin­g how we’ve been here in the past, you kind of expected a little bit more performanc­e today than what we had,” Logano said. “Just off on overall speed. We had the balance somewhat close, just not fast.”

Bubba Wallace, who drives for 23XI Racing, finished fourth. He was the top finisher not part of the Hendrick garage.

“It was right there in the top seven or eight the whole time,” Wallace said. “I was going to settle for sixth, and the caution came out. My car fired off really, really good [on the restart], the best it had all race.”

Elliott ready to begin rehab

Chase Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion, will begin physical therapy Monday, team owner Rick Hendrick told Fox Sports.

Elliott had surgery Friday to repair a fractured tibia, and Hendrick said the driver returned to his home in Dawsonvill­e, Ga. Elliott was injured in a snowboardi­ng accident Friday.

Josh Berry took Elliott’s seat in the No. 9 Chevy on Sunday and finished 29th.

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