Friday, March 3, 2023

Spring Race at Las Vegas has Seen Hendrick Motorsports Hit the Jackpot of Late

Spring Race at Las Vegas has Seen Hendrick Motorsports Hit the Jackpot of Late

Alex Bowman - Last Years Las Vegas Motor Speedway #NASCAR Cup Winner
Alex Bowman - Last Years Las Vegas Motor Speedway #NASCAR Cup Winner


The spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been very, very good to Hendrick Motorsports the past two seasons.


Last year, Alex Bowman got the better of teammate Kyle Larson in an overtime finish as Hendrick Motorsports finished 1-2 in the race. A key two-tire call by crew chief Greg Ives set up the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to start on the front row for the final restart. That race also saw all four Hendrick Motorsports cars finish inside the top 10 – something the team had only done one other time at Las Vegas in March of 2014.


"Winning Vegas last year was really good for us," Bowman said. "That has always been a really good racetrack for us. I feel like on paper it may not look it, but we’ve had some really great days there. Probably three or four would’ve-could’ve-should’ve won races there. It was good to finally get a win and hopefully we can go and back it up next time there."


The 29-year-old driver has had three top-six finishes in his last six runs at Las Vegas. That doesn’t include a 13th-place finish in the spring 2020 race, where he was battling for the lead prior to a late-race caution shaking up the strategy. He was also enjoying a top-10 run in the 2021 spring race before late-race misfortune took him out of contention. Bowman enters this weekend as one of four drivers with back-to-back top-10 finishes to open the season. With four top-10 finishes in his last five 1.5-mile starts, he has a great chance to extend that streak to start his time with new crew chief Blake Harris atop the box.


That 2021 race saw Larson get the first of 10 wins in his title season. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 led a race-high 103 laps en route to the victory. While that is his lone win at the Nevada venue, the Elk Grove, California, native has three other top-three finishes (including last year’s runner up) in the early-season race. His 11.15 average finish at the track is the fourth-best among all drivers.


"Vegas is a track that I like," Larson said. "It seems to be another one of those intermediate style tracks that suits my driving style because you can run different lanes. It has a lot of character with bumps and grip, so it's been a place that I have enjoyed. I've led some laps, won a race and had a few other close shots. I look forward to going there again this weekend and hopefully getting another Cup Series win."


Larson’s numbers at 1.5-mile tracks since coming over to Hendrick Motorsports in 2021 have been astronomical. His five wins, 13 stage wins, 1,642 laps led and average finish of 7.69 are all tops in the series over that span of time. In last season’s seven races on this track length, the 30-year-old driver earned the second-most points (261) – trailing only Ross Chastain.


William Byron’s  fifth-place result was a track-best finish for the Charlotte, North Carolina, native and his second straight top-10 finish in the spring race. He earned the fourth-most points on 1.5-mile tracks last season (234). While his 2023 season is not off to the start that the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would like to have, he has run the ninth-most laps (182) in the top 10 this season.


Chase Elliott finished ninth for his fifth top-10 result at the facility and third top-10 in the spring. The finishes don’t fully tell the tale of how the 27-year-old has run at this 1.5-mile track. His 18 top-10 finishes in stages at Las Vegas are the second-most in the NASCAR Cup Series behind only Martin Truex Jr. In the 2020 race, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet led 70 laps and won both stages, before late-race trouble led to a 26th-place finish. He also led 22 laps in his 13th-place run in 2021. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is coming off a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.


The recent success at Las Vegas feeds into the organization’s overall strength on 1.5-mile tracks. The squad has won at least one race on a 1.5-mile track in each of the last 29 seasons. The four-car brigade of Larson, Elliott, Byron and Bowman led 39% of the laps raced on that track length last year and its 705 laps led were the best mark in the series on 1.5-milers. The team was tied for the series lead in 2021 with two wins (Bowman at Las Vegas and Larson at Homestead-Miami Speedway) at 1.5-mile tracks and had the most stage wins (six).


Tune in to watch the third race of the 2023 Cup Series season from Las Vegas on Sunday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).



source: Hendrick Motorsports Media

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