This race saw Sin City play host to the 3rd round of the NASCAR Cup schedule. The 1.5-mile D-shaped oval saw Hedrick Motor Sports (HMS) lead a mind-boggling 90 % (241 laps) in route to a 1-2-3 HMS finish. William Byron captured his 5th career victory as well as sweeping both states and locking himself into the playoff. William led most of the way before a cycle of pit stops caused him to run second to his teammate, Kyle Larson with just four laps left. Larson, who had run top 5 all day, was once again snake bit by a late race caution leading to a green, white, checker finish. On the pit stop, Byron’s crew got him out second with a two-tire stop behind only Martin Truex Jr who elected to stay out and assume the lead with a late race gamble. Unfortunately, the house always wins in Vegas, and Truex would fade to a distant 7th. Larson and Bowman would claim 2nd and 3rd respectively. The rest of the top ten in order are as follows:
4. Bubba Wallace
5. Christopher Bell
6. Austin Cindric
7. Martin Truex Jr
8. Justin Haley
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Daniel Suarez
The Hendrick Chevy’s were the class of the field all day while the Toyota had a good short-run on speed but would fade as we got deeper into the run around 15 to 20 Laps despite showing great speed. On Saturday Ford’s just didn’t have the setup right for Sunday’s race. Trackhouse continues to impress, for a smaller team. RFK racing has improved over the winter but they are still not finding consistent finishes.
Overall, I found this week’s race to be pretty prototypical of what we have seen at 1.5 miles over the last decade and a half. In my opinion, it is a testament to the race shops, the crew chief, and the drivers to be able to be as competitive as they are without the multiple-car pile-ups that we see at big tracks like Talladega and Daytona. This leaves the teams with little to no margin for error in this era of impound racing and two-day shows. It really shows how dialed in each member of the team has to be in order to be successful at NASCAR stock car racing. Long gone are the days of drivers working in their cars. When teams spend well north of six figures each on a team of race engineers and millions of dollars in simulation machines to set the car up each week.
Before we close, I must address the elephant in the room. Chase Elliott breaking his leg in a snowboarding crash got my immediate reaction which was freaking brilliant. Now I’ve had a few days to dwell on it. I have to agree with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch’s statements on the matter. It wouldn’t be any different if Kyle Busch had broken his leg in an Xfinity Series crash. So a safe and speedy recovery to Chase. Can’t wait to have him back on the track
This week the Cup Series races on into the desert of Arizona.