Alex Bowman fends off Kyle Larson to win Pennzoil 400
Alex Bowman beat defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson in a tight two-lap shoot-out with a strong run off the final turn, winning the Pennzoil 400 Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On the race’s final pit stop — brought out by Erik Jones’ wreck with three laps left — Bowman and Larson decided to take just two tyres, putting the Hendrick Motorsports teammates on the front row.
Larson elected the high spot with Bowman underneath. They ran side by side until Bowman kept his Chevrolet down low and claimed his seventh career Cup win at the checkers.
“This thing was so fast all day, just never had the track position to show it,” Bowman said. “What a call by (crew chief) Greg Ives and the guys to take two there. Obviously it paid off. It’s been a pretty awful start to the year, so to come out here and get a win on a restart deal like that is pretty special.”
Bowman’s previous best finish of the young season was 24th at the Daytona 500.
Ross Chastain, who led three times for a career-high 83 laps, came home third. Kyle Busch and William Byron rounded out the top five finishers in the 274-lap race.
Busch grabbed the lead after pit stops with 50 laps to go but took on four tyres in the final stop and restarted fourth.
Christopher Bell started from the pole and led the first 33 laps but fell back in the top 10. He looped his Toyota shortly after the halfway point and came home 10th.
Ryan Blaney, who has been fast in all three Cup races thus far, wrecked with former Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski and finished 36th.
After winning his first career pole Saturday with a speed of 293,983km/h , Bell paced the first 33 circuits around the 2.41-kilometre track.
After starting shotgun on the field following a Saturday practice crash, Busch was involved in a spin behind Austin Dillon’s sliding No. 3. Busch also fought linkage problems on his shifter in the reserve car, brought out West for parts and unprepared to race.
“It’s a true testament to everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said. “The (No.) 18 guys, but also the 11, 19 and 20 — all of them for coming over and pitching in and making us go today. Really appreciate that.”
Bowman and Denny Hamlin took turns at the front, but it was Bowman leading a three-Chevrolet brigade to win the first stage.
In the seventh caution, Keselowski spun by himself and was struck by Blaney, who received significant damage just after the 100-lap mark.
“He just spun out on his own, and I was on the top and ran right into him,” Blaney said. “He lost it right of front of us, I guess, and happy he’s still running (while) we’re sitting here wrecked.”
Chastain passed Larson and led Chase Elliott to the line to give his No. 1 team its first-ever stage-points win on Lap 165 to close out the second stage.
With most of the field pitting with 50 laps to go, Hamlin made a shifting mistake and brought out the 11th caution period — eventually turning over the lead to Busch.
Source: Culled From TimesLIVE.