After an exciting start to the 2020 season, the NASCAR Cup Series moves west for a string of races on the pacific coast. Starting with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Pennzoil 400, this is the first test to gauge how competitive these teams and new drivers will be this year. With a big rookie class and some drivers on new teams, the time is now to perform. And Joey Logano did just that with a repeat win at Las Vegas in the Pennzoil 400.
Martin Truex Jr. paced the field to the Pennzoil 400 green flag as a caution immediately came out for Daniel Suarez. Suarez’s car had a mechanical issue and the field reset to restart the race. Joey Logano had a great jump and quickly moved into the lead. Kevin Harvick stayed with Logano and ended up taking the lead on lap 13. Harvick controlled most of the first stage of the race, but it was Chase Elliott with a lot of speed in the long run. Elliott passed Harvick for the lead with 13 laps remaining in the stage and never looked back. Chase Elliott wins the first stage.
Kevin Harvick cycled back into the lead in the Pennzoil 400 after pitting between stages. Elliott once again moved into the lead on lap 25. Halfway through the stage, green-flag stops began to cycle through. Martin Truex Jr. moved into the lead, but that was short-lived with Elliott’s speed. Elliott passed Truex Jr. and won the second stage of the race.
Joey Logano moved back to the Pennzoil 400 lead after his team had a great pitstop during the stage break. Another caution comes right after the restart when John Hunter Nemechek went for a spin down the backstretch.
The race quickly picked up, with Logano still out front. Martin Truex Jr. had tire issues, and he slams the wall with a blown tire. The race moved into a long stretch of green-flag racing. This allowed Chase Elliott to pick off drivers one-by-one and race back into the lead. The green flag once again occurred with 51 laps remaining. Unfortunately, Elliott had a tire go down right after his green-flag stop.
Joey Logano retook the lead on the restart and he battled with Ryan Blaney for the lead on multiple laps, neither giving an inch. Blaney finally took the top spot from his teammate with twelve laps remaining. Alex Bowman was also charging through the field. He quickly passed Logano and was inching close to Blaney. With six laps remaining, an untimely caution flag waved as it appeared this race was over. Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman both pitted from the lead and gave up the top two spots. Joey Logano took the green flag two laps to go. Joey Logano moved out front and drove the final laps of the Pennzoil 400 unbothered to win back-to-back at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Pennzoil 400 Takeaway
One noticeable takeaway from the Pennzoil 400 is that Hendrick Motor Sports came to play this year. After a few down years, and only winning a couple of races, fans questioned if this team would compete like they used to. Jimmie Johnson found himself a top-five finish and had a chance at a win. William Byron ran in the top-ten and even within the top-five all day long until he was caught up in the final caution. Chase Elliott looked like he was going to be the race winner before his caution ruined his day. Alex Bowman had a second-place finish if not a win in the bag if it was not for the late caution to come out. It is still early, but this team looks to be extremely competitive this season.