Man, and some of you thought Fontana was a boring racetrack. Compared to what was on display at Las Vegas this weekend, NASCAR might want to think about razing that track instead of Fontana.
I don’t know what the drivers think about Vegas but they might like it’s racing surface and the bumpiness in the corners. They may like that you can race just about anywhere on the track. But watching it from the comfort of your couch, well you could have taken a nice snooze between Stage 1 and the final restart and not missed much.
Let’s get to what little action there was. Basically, William Byron stunk up the place leading 176 of the 271 laps including OT. Teammate Kyle Larson led 63, Denny Hamlin 10 and after that it was a few others here and there.
So yeah, he kind of dominated the race to the point it wasn’t even fun unless you happen to have a bunch of Byron gear in your den. He won both Stages and easily pulled away from his teammates on the final restart leading Hendrick Motorsports to a 1-2-3 finish.
Surprisingly, pole sitter Joey Logano had nothing during the race. All that speed missed the set up and could never get a handle on it causing him to spin out and fly through the grass on lap 182, thus ending his day.
Also a big surprise was Kyle Busch not being a factor at all. He qualified 8th but finished 14th and was never a real threat for a Top 5 let alone a win. Again, another fast car last week that failed to keep up on a mile and a half track.
And lest I forget, let’s take note of the fact that Chase Elliott broke a leg while snowboarding. It was surgically repaired but he will be out for some time until that heals. There has been no mention of which leg it is but if the right leg, that may be a slower recovery than the left. He has to be able to mash the gas with the right so it might be a bigger deal than if the left leg. Josh Berry is on loan from JRM in the meantime and while he didn’t light the world on fire, he managed to stay out of trouble.
I thought Hendrick was the biggest threat this weekend but the Toyota’s made a good impression as well, outpacing the Fords in the Top 10. Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex, Jr. led the field for TRD.
Don’t look now, but that is two straight Top 10 finishes for Daniel Suarez. Ross Chastain faded to 12th but had a decent race going.
Also of note in the Top 10 were Austin Cindric (Ford) and Justin Haley. The only other Ford in the Top 10 was Kevin Harvick who paced about his average finish in 9th.
AJ Allmendinger wrecked out – again. After his 6th place finish at Daytona, he has had two DNFs. Maybe he can pick it up at Phoenix. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has finished 12th and 24th since his Daytona 500 win.
The Indy cars were on the narrow streets of St. Petersburg, FL this weekend and it was quite the show. Cars airborne, drivers exhausted from the heat and humidity and the leaders wrecking each other as the laps were winding down. Marcus Ericsson took over the lead with 4 laps remaining for his season opening win. Street racing is a whole different animal and we’ll see that in Chicago in July. Lamenting Indy cars on a street course? Just wait.
Next up: Phoenix
Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney dominated the race last fall giving Penske a 1-2 finish. Chase Briscoe is the returning spring champ where Blaney led 143 laps finishing 4th.
Kyle Larson, MTJ and Chase Elliott wrap up the PIR winners in the last 6 races.
While Harvick hasn’t won Phoenix in a while, this used to be his playground and he still has the second best average finish, after Joey Logano.
I lean towards seeing Logano and Blaney leading a lot of laps again. They have had speed but need a bit more during the race. It will be interesting to see which Kyle Busch team will show up. You don’t need a ton of speed at Phoenix and that might suit him if they can hit the set up – that’s the key at Phoenix.
Kyle Larson has also shown just enough speed but not quite enough which might be OK for Phoenix. If they hit the set ups right. Byron just had some amazing speed but Phoenix is not his strongest track.
If TRD can bring it, watch out for MTJ and Hamlin at the end. And their sneaky teammate Christopher Bell.
I also think this is a bounce back race for AJ Allmendinger. I don’t expect him to win but a Top 15 would be a good day for him.
Thank goodness we are away from Las Vegas and don’t have to listen to all the corny gambling references from the broadcast team. That stuff just makes me want to gag. Keep the shiny side up!
Leave your thoughts about the Las Vegas race below!
(Photo by Tim Parks/HHP for Chevy Racing)