The winner of NASCAR’s Cup Series race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway left little to chance on the track.
Kyle Larson led a race-best 103 laps and pulled away to a convincing 3.156-second win over former NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski to win the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, his first victory in two years.
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Below is more about Larson’s win, plus the complete results of Sunday’s race.
Who won the NASCAR race yesterday?
Larson, 28, of Elk Grove, Calif. became the quickest winner in Hendrick Motorsports’ long and esteemed history, taking the checkered flag in only his fourth start in the team’s famous No. 5 Chevrolet.
It was a hard-earned and highly emotional win for Larson, who missed most of last season serving a suspension for using racially insensitive language. (Ed.: He was also fired by Chip Ganassi Racing, for using the N-word in an iRacing event.) NASCAR reinstated him in the offseason after he followed a course of rehabilitation and sensitivity training. He came into the season with the Hendrick Motorsports opportunity, grateful and ready to redeem himself.
MORE: Kyle Larson suspension timeline
Larson was exuberant speaking to the team on the radio while driving under the checkered flag as the race winner. He did celebratory burnouts on the backstretch and then again under the flag stand on the frontstretch, telling his team on the car radio, “What a car, what an opportunity. Thank you, guys.”
Just as Larson was finishing his live television interview, Keselowski ran across the infield grass to shake Larson’s hand and congratulate him on a powerful race performance.
“I’m just really happy for him, I know he’s been through a lot in the last year and he’s a good kid who I’ve known for a little while and has a good family and I’m just happy to see him bounce back,” Keselowski said.
Bubba Wallace, the lone Black driver in the Cup Series, congratulated Larson after the race, as well.
Bubba Wallace congratulated Kyle Larson after the Las Vegas race. Larson: “It meant a lot to have Bubba come to victory lane.” pic.twitter.com/mdFv7ON4iF
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) March 8, 2021
NASCAR results from Las Vegas
It was a highly competitive race from green to checkered flag with 27 lead changes among 12 different drivers. Five drivers led at least 20 laps. Keselowski won Stage 1 and Larson won Stage 2, the first stage victories for both drivers this season.
In all, Larson led a race-best six times, working his Chevrolet back to the front no matter the challenge, ultimately pacing the field for the last 30 laps en route to his seventh career win. It is his first on a 1.5-mile track after nine previous runner-up finishes on mile-and-a-half venues.
“It was such an awesome car,” Larson said. “(Crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) and everybody did a great job preparing this piece. It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I know we had a really good car once we would kind of get single-filed out; but just drafting early in the run was tough.
“But thank you so much, Mr. Hendrick, Jeff Gordon and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the amazing opportunity I’ve been gifted. Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet everybody at the engine shop. Thank you so much for all the hard work. This is definitely special.”
Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch — a Las Vegas native — and Denny Hamlin finished third and fourth, respectively. Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney was fifth, his first top-10 of the season.
Hamlin and Keselowski, who are still looking for their first wins of the 2021 season, sit atop the championship points standings. Hamlin leads by 38 points over Keselowski and Larson is third.
|11||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service. Tom Gatto contributed to this report.