William Byron wins at Las Vegas as Hendrick dominates

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LAS VEGAS — William Byron took the lead on the second-to-last lap of overtime to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas on Sunday and put an exclamation mark on a dominant day for Hendrick Motorsports.

The top three drivers were from Hendrick, with Byron beating teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman. Bowman won last year’s March race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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

Larson appeared headed for victory when when Aric Almirola hit the wall in turn four on lap No. 264, leading to the second caution of the day.

Most of the leaders pitted a lap later, with only Martin Truex Jr. choosing to stay out. Meanwhile, Larson and Byron came in for two-tire service, but Byron’s team gained the second spot by winning the race with Larson off pit road.

“Honestly, the one pit stop that [we] had when we lost the lead, I slid through the box and slid long. That delayed the stop. That was on me,” said Byron, 25, who won for the fourth time in five career races when he led over 100 laps. “I knew they could get it done at the end.”

Byron’s last win was at Martinsville Speedway on April 9, 2022.

“I knew I was in trouble with [Truex] staying out. I felt William was going to get by him,” Larson said. “But William probably had a little bit better car than I did today, and their pit crew executed when they needed to.”

William Byron celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Penzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Getty Images

Byron, who started in the first row with Joey Logano, swept both stages in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet for the first time in his career. Truex and Kevin Harvick also won both stages in Las Vegas and went on to win — both in 2018.

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

Elliott had surgery Friday to repair a fractured tibia, and Hendrick said Elliott has returned to his home in Dawsonville, Georgia. Elliott was injured in a snowboarding accident Friday. He and his family own a home in Vail, Colorado.

Elliott joked on Twitter “that the formal request I submitted for a slight edit to the March section of my script was indeed… declined.”

“In all seriousness, the support I’ve received over the last couple of days is far greater than I deserve,” he posted in a follow-up tweet. “I want to thank everyone who has lended it over in any form!”

Josh Berry took Elliott’s seat in the No. 9 Chevy.

Logano, the defending Cup champion who won the Las Vegas race in October, hit the wall in in turn four on lap No. 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 Team Penske No. 22 Ford 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 expect it 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.”

Sunday’s first stage wasn’t kind to Las Vegas drivers Busch and Noah Gragson. Busch bumped the wall, and Gragson twice was penalized for speeding on pit road. Gragson later was docked a third speeding penalty.

Struggles in his hometown are nothing new for two-time Cup Series champion Busch, whose only top-level win at Las Vegas was in 2009.

Gragson is a Cup Series rookie.

Source: espn.com

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