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Larson wins Cup Series race at Las Vegas

Credits: NASCAR / Getty Images

The NASCAR Cup Series made its next stop on the schedule at Las Vegas Speedway for the Pennzoil 400. The prescribed amount of laps would be 267. Kevin Harvick would lead the field to green with home heros Kurt and Kyle Busch behind him, as well as race favorites like Brad Keslowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano.

Off of turn four on the wild first lap, William Byron, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Larson would be three-wide. Byron would lead the first lap. It would be a Hendrick one-two-three for the opening ten laps as Byron would hold the lead with Larson and Chase Elliot close behind.

On lap twenty, the lead would change hands and Chase Elliot would take it. The first caution of the race would be NASCAR’s scheduled competition caution. The restart would have Kyle Larson controlling the field on the outside and Hamlin on the inside. Elliot would lose the lead and several positions on pit road. Hamlin would prevail on the restart and be the first car not owned by Hendrick Motorsports to lead laps in the race. Larson would reassume the lead.

Shortly the second caution of the race would come out for debris. At the restart, Larson would take the field to green again. For several laps following, Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano would be three-wide, with the latter taking the lead. This would result in the eleventh Las Vegas race he would lead in his career. Chase Elliot would then re-take the lead with twenty laps left on the stage.

With ten laps remaining in stage one, Keselowski and Elliot would race side-by-side for the lead, with Ryan Blaney close behind. Keselowski would prevail against Elliot and win stage one. There would be a total of twelve lead changes in stage one.

Stage two would begin with Denny Hamlin taking the field to the green with Keselowski on the outside.

Keselowski would take the lead with a hard-charging Blaney close behind. Matt DiBenedetto would make his way to third in what was a crucial race for him with the slow start to the season.

Keselowski would hold the lead for most of the early part of stage two. Kyle Larson would eventually retake the top spot, with Keselowski falling back to the fourth position with William Byron and Ryan Blaney passing him.

Green flag stops began about halfway through stage two. A few drivers would stay out and hope for a caution. Some of these drivers included Daytona 500 winner Micheal McDowell, Anthony Alfredo, and Corey Lajoie. Kyle Larson, who led at the beginning of green flag pitstops, would pass all of these drivers as they finally gave in and pitted. Larson, after all green flag pit stops, would go on to have a five-second lead and win stage two.

Drivers would begin to line up for the beginning of stage three. Larson on the outside and Hamlin on the inside.

Larson would have an excellent restart and jump in front of Denny Hamlin with a Joe Gibbs brigade behind him.

Down the backstretch, Elliot would spin by himself and just barely clip the one car driven by Kurt Busch, who saved it and continued. Matt DiBenedetto made a fantastic move to avoid the incident narrowly. Elliot’s car would escape with minimal damage.

Another restart would ensue. Hamlin and Larson would be on the front row once more.

Hamlin would take the lead this time. Larson would begin defending the second place. He would fall back a few positions to Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. Caution would return.

For the sixth time, the field would be doubled up once again. Aric Almirola would hit the wall in turn one. He had cut a tire in turns three and four. In an attempt to avoid hitting the wall, Almirola slowed down significantly, but it wasn’t enough. The field would be split in half by drivers staying out of pit road under caution and those who pitted. Denny Hamlin led the group that stayed out and Kyle Larson led the group that pitted.

With 83 laps remaining, Hamlin and Truex Jr. would lead the field back to green. Ryan Blaney gave a massive push to Hamlin on the intense restart. Kyle Larson began making up ground quickly and moved into the top ten in three laps as well as Keselowski.

Both Keselowski and Larson would then enter the top five a few laps later. Truex Jr. continued to hold the lead. Denny Hamlin aggressively took first from his teammate with a very fast Keselowski and Larson filling up their mirrors. Larson would then move into second and Keselowski to third, both chasing after Hamlin.

Larson would go back to the lead and essentially disappear.

To this point in the race, there had been 25 lead changes. A track record for Las Vegas. A surprise to in the running order was Erik Jones, driver for Richard Petty Motorsports. He was running tenth with fifty-two laps remaining. A few drivers who stayed out after the Almirola incident began to pit as well. Drivers that began pitting included Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, and Christopher Bell.

Larson, with forty-two to go, had begun pitting. This would hopefully be the final stop for drivers this race. Daniel Suarez would stay out of pit road as long as possible in hopes of caution coming out with no success.

Larson would go back to the lead with a little over twenty-five laps. Keselowski would also remain in second. Kyle Busch moved into fourth and eventually third continuing a quiet day for him. Alex Bowman would have a tire go down with fifteen laps remaining. While trying to get to pit road, Anthony Alfredo narrowly missed Bowman. A moment that made all fans watching collectively sweat.

Closing in on the finish, it would be Kyle Larson returning to victory lane for the seventh time. This locks Larson into the playoffs later on in the season.

Next weekend, the Cup Series will be visiting Phoenix Raceway. The race can be found on Fox, Sunday, March 14th at 3:30pm est.

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