Fired by Chip Ganassi, and picked up by Rick Hendrick, Kyle Larson (shown above) schooled the best NASCAR drivers to win the Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was only his 4th start driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Larson made Rick Hendrick know he hired the right driver for the #5 Chevy .
Larson became the fourth different winner in four Cup Series races this season, leading a race-high 103 of the 267 laps in the Pennzoil 400.
Brad Keselowski finished second 3.156s back in the #2 Penske Ford.
Kyle Busch came home 3rd in the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota while #11 Denny Hamlin and #12 Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5.
Keselowski and Larson divided the stage wins, with Larson securing his first stage victory since September 2019 at the second break.
Larson was exuberant speaking to the team on the radio while driving under the checkered flag as the race winner. He did celebratory burnouts on the backstretch and then again under the flag-stand on the frontstretch telling his Hendrick Motorsports team on the car radio, “What a car, what an opportunity. Thank you, guys.”
Just as Larson was finishing his live television interview, Keselowski ran across the infield grass to shake Larson’s hand and congratulate him on a powerful race performance.
“I’m just really happy for him, I know he’s been through a lot in the last year and he’s a good kid who I’ve known for a little while and has a good family and I’m just happy to see him bounce back,” the Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski said.
“He was really fast – had a lot of speed in all the lanes which was really impressive, usually you have to make a compromise, but they were really good. If Kyle Larson wasn’t here, we would have had a dominant day,” Keselowski added with a smile.
It was a highly competitive race from green to checkered flag with 27 lead changes among 12 different drivers. Five drivers led at least 20 laps. Keselowski won Stage 1 and Larson won Stage 2 – the first stage victories for both drivers this season.
In all, Larson led a race best six times, working his Chevrolet back to the front no matter the challenge, ultimately pacing the field for the last 30 laps en route to his seventh career win. It is his first on a 1.5-mile track after nine previous runner-up finishes on mile-and-a-half venues.
“It was such an awesome car,” Larson said. “Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody did a great job preparing this piece. It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I know we had a really good car once we would kind of get single-filed out; but just drafting early in the run was tough.
Kevin Harvick started from the Busch Pole, but lost the lead in Lap 1 and dropped further back after a fender rub and a flat tire near the Stage 1 midpoint. He battled the handling of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and finished 20th, one lap down.
Defending series champion Chase Elliott led three times for 22 laps, but his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet sustained damage in a spin exiting Turn 2 with 99 laps remaining. Elliott recovered to place 13th.
Two more Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, driven by Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell were sixth and seventh, followed by last week’s winner, Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron. Team Penske driver Joey Logano and Richard Petty Motorsport’s driver Erik Jones rounded out the top 10.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Race Winner:
WE KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO BE QUICK WHEN YOU CAME TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, BUT TODAY YOU WERE DOMINATE IN THIS RACE
“Yeah, thanks. It was such an awesome race car. Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody did a great job preparing this piece. It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I knew we had a really good car once we would kind of get single-filed out; but just drafting early in the run was tough. But thank you so much Mr. Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the amazing opportunity I’ve been gifted. Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, everybody at the engine shop, thank you so much for all the hard work This is definitely special.”
YOU MENTIONED MR. HENDRICK AND EVERYTHING THAT HE HAS DONE FOR YOU IN YOUR CAREER. AND NOW YOU’RE RUNNING THE NO. 5 THAT RICKY HENDRICK MADE SO FAMOUS WHEN HE WAS DRIVING. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
“It means a lot. This is Rick’s most special paint scheme, for obvious reasons. And it’s just an honor for me to be able to drive it in our first time out with this color scheme. Like I said, it’s blessed. Thanks to all the fans for coming out and to everybody at home watching on TV. That was some fun racing on the re-starts, so I hope everybody enjoyed it. I know I did. I had fun racing Brad (Keselowski) and Denny (Hamlin) and everybody and tried to give it away there coming to a green flag stop; but thankfully we were able to have a good enough car to hold them all off.”
|1||3||5||Kyle Larson||HendrickCars.com Chevrolet||267||103||Running|
|2||10||2||Brad Keselowski||Discount Tire Ford||267||27||Running|
|3||14||18||Kyle Busch||Ethel M Chocolates Toyota||267||0||Running|
|4||6||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Ground Toyota||267||47||Running|
|5||26||12||Ryan Blaney||Menards/Pennzoil Ford||267||1||Running|
|6||4||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Bass Pro Toyota||267||6||Running|
|7||16||20||Christopher Bell||Craftsman Toyota||267||0||Running|
|8||2||24||William Byron||Liberty University Chevrolet||267||25||Running|
|9||15||22||Joey Logano||Pennzoil Ford||267||7||Running|
|10||29||43||Erik Jones||Medallion Bank Chevrolet||267||0||Running|
|11||17||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Kroger Chevrolet||267||0||Running|
|12||12||3||Austin Dillon||BetMGM Chevrolet||267||0||Running|
|13||8||9||Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet||267||22||Running|
|14||18||17||Chris Buescher||Fastenal Ford||267||0||Running|
|15||19||37||* Ryan Preece||Natural Light Naturdays Chevrolet||266||0||Running|
|16||30||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford||266||0||Running|
|17||5||34||Michael McDowell||Love’s Travel Stops Ford||266||9||Running|
|18||13||6||Ryan Newman||Wyndham Rewards Ford||266||0||Running|
|19||7||1||Kurt Busch||Monster Energy Chevrolet||266||0||Running|
|20||1||4||Kevin Harvick||Mobil 1 Ford||266||0||Running|
|21||24||14||Chase Briscoe #||Ford Performance Racing School Ford||266||0||Running|
|22||11||8||Tyler Reddick||Quartz Hill Records Chevrolet||266||7||Running|
|23||21||42||Ross Chastain||Clover Chevrolet||266||0||Running|
|24||27||38||Anthony Alfredo #||Speedy Cash Ford||266||1||Running|
|25||20||41||Cole Custer||HaasTooling.com Ford||266||0||Running|
|26||22||99||Daniel Suarez||Camping World Chevrolet||265||12||Running|
|27||9||48||Alex Bowman||Ally Chevrolet||265||0||Running|
|28||23||23||Bubba Wallace||Columbia Sportswear Toyota||262||0||Running|
|29||25||77||Justin Haley(i)||Nations Guard Chevrolet||262||0||Running|
|30||34||78||BJ McLeod(i)||Surface Sunscreen Ford||260||0||Running|
|31||31||53||Garrett Smithley(i)||Trophy Tractor Chevrolet||259||0||Running|
|32||32||51||Cody Ware(i)||Nurtec ODT Chevrolet||259||0||Running|
|33||36||0||Quin Houff||8 Ball Whiskey Chevrolet||256||0||Running|
|34||37||15||Joey Gase||NV Donor Network Chevrolet||255||0||Running|
|35||35||52||Josh Bilicki||Dollar Loan Center Ford||252||0||Running|
|36||38||66||* Timmy Hill||LasVegas.net Toyota||246||0||Running|
|37||33||7||Corey LaJoie||Built Bar Chevrolet||188||0||Rear End|
|38||28||10||Aric Almirola||Smithfield Power Bites Ford||178||0||Accident|
Average Speed of Race Winner: 139.615 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 52 Mins, 7 Secs. Margin of Victory: 3.156 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 30 laps.
Lead Changes: 27 among 12 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 0;W. Byron 1-19;C. Elliott 20-26;K. Larson 27-30;D. Hamlin 31-43;K. Larson 44-52;J. Logano 53;B. Keselowski 54-55;J. Logano 56-61;C. Elliott 62-71;B. Keselowski 72-73;C. Elliott 74-78;B. Keselowski 79-82;R. Blaney 83;D. Hamlin 84-87;B. Keselowski 88-106;K. Larson 107-123;W. Byron 124-129;T. Reddick 130-136;M. McDowell 137-145;A. Alfredo # 146;K. Larson 147-169;D. Hamlin 170-185;M. Truex Jr. 186-191;D. Hamlin 192-205;K. Larson 206-225;D. Suarez 226-237;K. Larson 238-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Larson 6 times for 103 laps; Denny Hamlin 4 times for 47 laps; Brad Keselowski 4 times for 27 laps; William Byron 2 times for 25 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 22 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 12 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 9 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 7 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 7 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 6 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Anthony Alfredo # 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,9,12,11,48,20,24,21,22,19