Kyle Larson Conquers Las Vegas for First Win Since Returning to NASCAR

Kyle Larson conquers Las Vegas in the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series is three races into the season with three different winners thus far. It has been an extremely entertaining first couple of weeks, as teams begin to settle in for the long haul. The NASCAR Cup Series headed out west for a showdown in the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Being three races in, it was expected that NASCAR’s veterans would begin to return to the top after a lackluster start to the season by many teams.  

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Power Ranking after Las Vegas

The NASCAR season is now officially, officially, underway. Obviously, Daytona started the season, but the second race is circled on every team’s calendar as a ‘test’ race of sorts, where car performance can first be seen without the help of a 200+ mile per hour draft. Joey Logano picked up the victory in the Pennzoil 400, and the top-ten was full of unexpected success stories. That led to some large shakeups in this week’s power rankings, but a driver who hasn’t yet won now leads the pack.

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Joey Logano Repeats at Las Vegas and Wins Pennzoil 400

Joey Logano takes the Checkered Flag at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the defending winner from 2019.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 23: Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford takes the checkered/yellow flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 23, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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.

Stage 1

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.

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Crew Chief Brian Pattie Parlay Strategic Call into Third-Place

Ricky Stenhouse Jr, led by crew chief Brian Pattie finishes third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 21: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 21, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a lucky charm. His name is Brian Pattie.

In his capacity as crew chief on Stenhouse’s No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, Pattie often opts for contrarian strategy. That certainly was the case in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as Stenhouse built on a strong Daytona Speedweeks with a strategic third-place finish in the second NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

Brian Pattie repeatedly kept Stenhouse on the track during green-flag pit stop cycles, hoping for a timely caution. The gamble finally paid off when Chase Elliott hit the turn one wall on lap 220 because of a flat left rear tire.

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Jimmie Johnson Shows Speed in Strong Fifth-Place Run at Vegas

Jimmie Johnson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with first Top-Five finish since 2019 July race at Daytona.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 21: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 21, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided Jimmie Johnson with just the sort of consistent strong he needed after two winless seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Driving the new sleeker Camaro introduced into NASCAR’s top series this year, Johnson finished ninth in Stage 1, seventh in Stage 2 and fifth in the race after surviving a chaotic restart with two laps left.

The seven-time champion was upbeat after posting his first top-five result since last year’s July race at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was a strong day,” Johnson acknowledged. “With about 15 to go or so, I got into the outside wall and lost some spots. But we didn’t have a strong enough tire rub to cause any problems. We put rights (right-side tires) on before that final restart. Chaos was happening in front of me and I was able to sneak through to get a top-five finish…

“We’re trying to just understand this new Camaro body and the setup that needs to go with it. We’re close, but there’s still a little bit more work for us to do on our car to get the balance between the clean air and the traffic closer. But for the first try on a downforce track, the guys did a really nice job.”