'Team Penske’s Joey Logano won the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. He was followed by Matt DiBenedetto of Wood Brothers Racing and JTG Daugherty’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished in second and third place, respectively. Here are four takeaways from the first of the West Coast races:
LESS CRASHES, BUT CHAOTIC RESTARTS:
Sunday’s race saw significantly less contact between drivers after Monday’s brutal Daytona 500. There were no major wrecks this weekend, but on two restarts cars immediately ran three and four wide.
Then, in the final two laps off the restart, Logano sprinted ahead and then won under caution on the last lap for his first victory of the season, while DiBenedetto squeezed past Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron. DiBenedetto moved into second place, fending off Stenhouse Jr., who finished just behind him.
“(This) is a great day for Wood Brothers and Team Penske,” Logano said after the race. He also noted that a final push from Stenhouse Jr. on the restart made the difference.
“He shoved me ahead, which was great,” Logano said. “And then the block on the 24 (Byron), that was the winning move, I was able to get down in front of him and then be able to separate myself a little bit from the field.”
Logano has now won a race in every one of the last nine seasons.
FIRST WIN FOR TEAM PENSKE:
Hendrick Motorsports, led by Chase Elliott, dominated the first two stages, but when it mattered, Team Penske capitalized. The Ford cars, driven by Logano, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowkski ran in first, second and seventh respectively, in the final 20 laps. With 13 laps left, Blaney slid in front of Logano and the two battled just before a caution.
Logano, however, was able to move into first place and remain there riding on old tires. He did not pit in the final laps and instead sprinted to the end. The strategy paid off for Logano, while Blaney finished the race in 11th place. Keselowski finished seventh.
Ford also had a successful night from a manufacturer’s standpoint with DiBenedetto taking second place (Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing have a strategic partnership). Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick also managed an eighth place finish.
A HIGHLIGHT NIGHT FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
Neither back-to-back stage winner Chase Elliott nor seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson won this year’s Pennzoil 400, but both the fan favorite Elliott and veteran Johnson were able to earn a large chunk of points for Hendrick Motorsports in Las Vegas.
Until late in the third stage, Elliott led most of the race, but a flat tire caused him to pull out before the final caution. Elliott won both the first and second stages, while Hendrick Motorsports teammates Byron, Bowman and Johnson all finished in the top 10 in those stages.
Johnson, Bowman, Byron and Elliott finished in fifth, 13th, 22nd, and 26th place, respectively.
YOUR DAYTONA 500 WINNER LOOKED ROUGH OUT WEST:
Less than a week after winning his second consecutive Daytona 500, Hamlin returned to the track for a disappointing performance in Vegas. He finished in 17th place on Sunday, and at one point in the final stage was nearly lapped by Elliott, who was leading at the time.
Hamlin, who was in 24th place when Elliott edged behind him, was able to stay just in front of the No. 9 car, but he never broke into the top ten, proving he has found more success on the superspeedways.’
- The Charlotte Observer, 2/23/2020 & Photo from Chase Stevens/AP