Kyle Larson again wins at Las Vegas to keep Chevrolet undefeated on NASCAR season

[ad_1]

LAS VEGAS — There’s a tradition at Hendrick Motorsports to ring the winning bell throughout the North Carolina shop after every NASCAR victory.

As motivation to have the best year of his career, Kyle Larson’s team decided to bring a bell on the road so avoid having to wait to return to Charlotte to celebrate every achievement he plans for this season.

The bell got its first ring Sunday when Larson won his second consecutive race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to keep keep Chevrolet undefeated and give Rick Hendrick his second victory in the first three NASCAR Cup Series races of the season.

Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season and opened the year with William Byron winning the Daytona 500.

“That bell will travel with us every week and we’ll be ringing it loud and proud,” Larson said.

Larson won for the third time in his career at Las Vegas, where in 2021 he got his first win driving for Hendrick following a nearly yearlong suspension in 2020. Larson also won in the No. 5 Chevy at Las Vegas last October in the playoffs.

Larson held off Tyler Reddick for his 24th career Cup victory. In a Toyota for 23XI Racing, Reddick chased Larson for the final several laps but could never find enough room to make a move for the pass. Larson’s margin of victory was 0.441 seconds over Reddick.

“I knew Tyler was going to be the guy to beat from the first stage. He was really fast there,” Larson said. “Cool to get a win here at Vegas again. Back-to-back, swept all the stages again. Can’t ask for more than that.”

Reddick was extremely frustrated after finishing second and believed Larson as the leader controlled the race because of the rules of NASCAR’s new car.

“Kyle did a really good job there taking away pretty much every option I had there to close the gap,” Reddick said. “Second sucks, that is for sure. You have to run up front all day long, and when asked about what we need to do to get better, that’s the very thing, and we didn’t do it. We were pretty evenly matched, so I don’t know if there was anything that I really could’ve done to get around him.

“He would have had to make a big mistake or had some traffic kind of knock his wind around. It’s a solid effort for our team, that’s how we need to run, but I don’t like running second.”

Chevrolet also has wins this year by Byron in the Daytona 500 and Daniel Suarez last week at Atlanta for Trackhouse Racing. Chevrolet has won eight of nine national series races to open the year.

Ford and Toyota are both using new cars this year.

The Chevrolet contingent right now is as tight as it’s ever been, and the key partner groups and even outside of that are working really good together because we know we have very little margin here,” said Hendrick team president and general manager Jeff Andrews. “We know we’re up against a new car with Ford and Toyota. We have to do our best to work together and keep advancing this car.

“We’re obviously early on in the season here, a lot of racing to go, and they will get there. Anytime that you change a platform on those cars as much as they’ve had, it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Reigning NASCAR champion Ryan Blaney was third for Team Penske in a Ford, followed by Trackhouse driver Ross Chastain, Ty Gibbs in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing and Las Vegas native Noah Gragson was sixth in his best finish since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

Martin Truex Jr. for JGR was seventh, followed by teammate Denny Hamlin, Penske driver and pole-sitter Joey Logano and Byron. Suarez, last week’s winner, was 11th.

Larson swept all three stages and led 181 of the 267 laps. The win made Larson the Cup Series points leader with an eight-point cushion over Blaney.

BUESCHER PENALTY TO COME

Chris Buescher and RFK Racing are facing penalties after a tire fell off Buescher’s Ford early in the race.

“We lost the nut and lost half the wheel. I think the tire stayed up under the fender,” Buescher said. “It looks like the nut came off and something in the suspension actually cut the wheel in half.

The penalty will be the suspension of two crew members from Buescher’s team for the next two races.

DRIVE FOR DIVERSITY SUCCESS

Larson’s win continued a streak of success for graduates of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

It started when Nick Sanchez won the Truck Series race to open the season at Daytona, and then Suarez won the Cup Series race last week at Atlanta.

Rajah Caruth became only the third Black driver to win at NASCAR’s national level with a win in Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas and now Larson, who is of Japanese descent, won the Cup race.

“The D4D program was good for my career. Kind of gave me my introduction into stock car racing and gained a lot of experience, not only on the racetrack but off of it, as well,” Larson said. “I’m sure it’s changed quite a bit since 2012, but regardless, they’ve produced some great drivers, and it’s cool to see.

“Hopefully, we can add some more D4D guys on to the new championship list down the road.”

UP NEXT

NASCAR goes next week to Phoenix Raceway, where Byron is the defending race winner. Chastain won in November on the day Blaney won his first Cup title.

___

AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Comment