William Byron seals the deal on his most dominating performance with an overtime win in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 05: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

William Byron would not be denied. Byron capped off a dominating day Sunday with an overtime thriller to win his fifth career NASCAR Cup series race, and his first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Byron swept the stages, and led a race high 176 laps, but it appeared to all come apart during the races first natural caution on lap 184 for Joey Logano spinning coming out of Turn 4.

Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead out of the pits with a two tire stop, with Byron’s Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson coming out second ahead of Byron. Hamlin held onto the lead until lap 196 when Larson was able to get by the Toyota driver during a round of green flag stops that allowed him to take his Chevy to the lead when the cycle of stops ended.

Byron was able to get second with 35 to go, but at that point Larson held a near 4 second lead. With 10 to go, Byron began to close the distance and was 2.6 seconds back when 3 laps before the end Aric Almirola’s Ford hit the wall between Turns 2 and 3. Despite the fact that he was able to continue, NASCAR called the caution and set up an overtime finish.

All of the lead group with the exception of Martin Truex Jr. pitted all taking just two tires. Byron was out just ahead of Larson. On the final restart, Truex was on the inside, Byron on the outside. Byron had little trouble disposing of Truex as Larson took second at the white flag. Coming to the checkered Larson had nothing for Byron and as a multicar crash erupted on the backstretch, NASCAR kept the field green and allowed the leaders to race back to the line with Byron winning his first race since April of last season by .622 of a second over Larson and seal what was easily the most dominating performance of his Cup career.

“Just been really confident about the group of guys that I have on this 24 team,” Byron said. “They work extremely hard, and we spent a lot of time in the off-season just going through running at the sim with Chevy and running on iRacing and just trying to get better as a race car driver and as a team.

“It’s all about the team. It’s a great pit crew.”

Larson who won this race in 2020 and won at the last 1.5 mile track the series visited, last October at Homestead, knew his chance at winning was in jeopardy when the final caution came out. but acknowledged that his race was lost on pit road.

“Damn,” he said chuckling. “It’s just part of Cup racing. It seems like kind of laps down, lap by lap, and then sure enough, the yellow lights come on.

“You’ve just got to get over that and then try to execute a good pit stop, and I thought I did a really good job getting to my sign, and getting to the commitment line, I had a gap to William behind me, and their pit crew must have just did a really good job and got out in front of us, and that gave up the front row to us. I knew I was in trouble with the 19 staying out. I felt like William was going to get by him.

“Yeah, just a bummer that we didn’t end up the winner, but all in all, William probably had a little bit better car than I had today, and their pit crew executed when they needed to there at the end.”

Logano has no hard feelings after getting ‘fenced’ at Vegas

Hendrick driver and last year’s winner of this race Alex Bowman was third with Bubba Wallace fourth. Christopher Bell overcame a wheel vibration that sent him deep in the field at one point to rally for fifth.

Byron took the blame for losing his lead on the lap 184 pit stops. But gave credit to his crew for winning the race.

“Yeah, honestly, the one pit stop that they had that we lost the lead, I slid through the box or slid long, and that delays the stop,” Byron said. “That was on me, and I knew they could get it done at the end.”

Austin Cindric was sixth; Truex’s desperate chance left him in seventh.

“At the end, we just took a gamble,” Truex said. “We were going to run probably at best third or fourth and threw a hail Mary and finished seventh so not really a big deal there.”

Justin Haley, Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10.

Polesitter Logano’s brush with the wall damaged his Ford to the point the crew was unable to repair it and he was the only driver listed as a DNF in last place. The fourth Hendrick car, the No. 9 with substitute driver Josh Berry in for Chase Elliott who broke his leg snowboarding on Friday finished 29th, 2 laps down.

“Thinking of Chase back home,” Byron said. “Wish he was out here with us. He’s a great race car driver, great teammate. Wish he was out here, but thankful to Mr. H., Jeff Gordon. I know he’s watching…”

The race marked the third time Hendrick Motorsports had finished 1-2-3 in a Cup Series event.

The NASCAR Cup series stays out west heading just down the road to Phoenix Raceway next Sunday. Chase Briscoe is the defending winner.

Photos: NASCAR at Las Vegas Sunday, March 5 2023


NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday, March 5, 2023

1. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 271.
2. (6) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 271.
3. (11) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 271.
4. (13) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 271.
5. (10) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 271.
6. (9) Austin Cindric, Ford, 271.
7. (15) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 271.
8. (27) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 271.
9. (14) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 271.
10. (24) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 271.
11. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 271.
12. (8) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 271.
13. (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 271.
14. (5) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 271.
15. (34) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 271.
16. (21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 271.
17. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 271.
18. (23) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 271.
19. (22) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 270.
20. (19) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 270.
21. (18) Chris Buescher, Ford, 270.
22. (4) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 270.
23. (31) Ryan Preece, Ford, 270.
24. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 270.
25. (17) Michael McDowell, Ford, 270.
26. (35) Harrison Burton, Ford, 269.
27. (26) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 269.
28. (20) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 269.
29. (32) Josh Berry(i), Chevrolet, 269.
30. (25) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 269.
31. (28) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 268.
32. (36) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 266.
33. (29) JJ Yeley, Ford, 265.
34. (33) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 265.
35. (30) Cody Ware, Ford, 259.
36. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, DVP, 183.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 142.98 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 50 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory: .622 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 26 laps.
Lead Changes: 13 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Logano 1-9;W. Byron 10-36;B. Keselowski 37;T. Reddick 38-40;W. Byron 41-185;D. Hamlin 186-195;K. Larson 196-220;W. Byron 221;A. Bowman 222-223;B. Keselowski 224-227;K. Larson 228-265;W. Byron 266;M. Truex Jr. 267-269;W. Byron 270-271.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): William Byron 5 times for 176 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 63 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 10 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 9 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 5 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 3 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,5,1,20,11,19,48,23,8,6
Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,5,48,19,20,23,1,11,6,4

Greg Engle