LAS VEGAS — One way or another, a Hendrick Motorsports driver figured to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas.
Kyle Larson nearly won the Pennzoil 400 in regulation, but a late caution put teammate William Byron in position to capture the checkered flag in overtime.
Byron took the lead on the penultimate lap of OT to put an exclamation mark on a dominant day for Hendrick. The top three drivers were from Hendrick, with Byron, Larson and Alex Bowman pushing their Chevrolets across the finish line in that order.
Bowman won last year’s March race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Byron led 176 laps and won for the fifth time in his six Cup seasons.
“I’ve led a lot of laps in a couple of races, but to be this good with this team is definitely a good sign,” Byron said. “It’s a different feeling for me having a team around me that can execute that well. That’s just a team effort.”
Larson appeared headed for victory when when Aric Almirola hit the wall in turn four on lap No. 264, leading to the second caution of the day.
“I feel like I could have eight or 10 more Cup wins if it wasn’t for cautions in the last five laps,” Larson said. “I don’t remember many of those working out in my favor.”
Most of the leaders pitted a lap later, with only Martin Truex Jr. in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota choosing to stay out. Byron, in the No. 24 Chevy, came out of pit road ahead of Larson and then easily overtook Truex after the restart.
Byron, who started in the first row with Joey Logano, swept both stages for the first time in his career. Truex in 2017 and Kevin Harvick in 2018 also won both stages in Las Vegas and went on to win.
The fourth Hendrick driver and 2020 Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott, will begin physical therapy Monday, his team owner Rick Hendrick told Fox Sports.
Elliott had surgery Friday to repair a fractured tibia, and Hendrick said Elliott has returned to his home in Dawsonville, Georgia. Elliott was injured in a snowboarding accident Friday. He and his family own a home in Vail, Colorado.
Elliott joked on Twitter “that the formal request I submitted for a slight edit to the March section of my script was indeed… declined.”
“In all seriousness, the support I’ve received over the last couple of days is far greater than I deserve,” he posted in a follow-up tweet. “I want to thank everyone who has lended it over in any form!”
Josh Berry took Elliott’s seat in the No. 9 Chevy and finished 29th. Hendrick general manager Jeff Andrews said a decision would be made on who drives that car next weekend at Phoenix.
Bubba Wallace, who drives the 23XI Racing No. 23 Toyota, finished fourth. He was the top finisher not part of the Hendrick garage.
“It was right there in the top seven or eight the whole time,” Wallace said. “I was going to settle for sixth and the caution came out. My car fired off really, really good (on the restart), the best it had all race.”