There are plenty of stories to follow during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (FOX, PRN, Sirius XM). Live leaderboard will be available at NASCAR.com.
Penske Duo Look to Continue Streak
Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski each will be looking to extend a top-10 streak at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to nine and 10 races, respectively. Logano is the defending race winner and Keselowski has three wins in the last eight races at the 1.5-mile track.
"There was something about Vegas that kind of clicked for me right off the bat," Logano said. "It’s been a really good race track for us. We finally won here. It took a while, but our average finish and the consistency has been there for a long time, so that’s a great thing."
Toyota Trio to the Back
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin along with Leavine Family Racing’s Christopher Bell will each have to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the Pennzoil 400. Each team were assessed with the loss of 10 driver and owner points after the nose of each car did not meet specifications in pre-race inspection. Busch was slated to start from the pole and Hamlin in fourth when rain washed out Saturday’s qualifying session.
"Yeah, I think I knocked the wall down about Lap 11 last time here starting in the middle of the pack," Busch said. "Maybe I’ll just start half a lap down and be clean air and run the pack down and catch them and blow by them one at a time."
See Also: Pit Stall Assignments
Real Season Starts
With Daytona International Speedway in the rear-view mirror most will say this is where the real season starts. Las Vegas will be the first of 11 races this season at 1.5-mile tracks. Last year, eight drivers combined to win at 1.5-mile tracks with Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. each scoring two victories. Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, who each scored one win, ranked in the top five in average finish in the 11 races last season. Harvick led a series high 590 laps at 1.5-mile tracks in 2019 and posted a 3.0 average finish in the two races at LVMS.
Chevrolet drivers will put the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to the test on an intermediate track in Sunday’s race. Jimmie Johnson topped the final practice session and joined Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch in the top five in best 10 consecutive lap averages. Kyle Larson had the best 25-lap average.
"The car felt good in practice," Busch said. "We got a nice draft behind the 88 (Alex Bowman), who is a Chevy as well. When Chevy’s can produce good lap times together, that’s a good sign. The big thing, though, will be how the car reacts in all of the dirty air on Sunday. I think from where I was a couple years ago in a Ford, the Camaro last year seemed to struggle in dirty air. It seemed to struggle in traffic, more than what I would have expected it too. So, I’m hopeful this Camaro is more efficient in the dirty air situations."
See Also: Las Vegas Paint Schemes
Chastain Fills In for Newman
Ross Chastain will drive the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford for Ryan Newman in the Pennzoil 400. Newman was treated and released from Halifax Medical Center on Wednesday after being injured in a last-lap accident while leading the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Chastain, who will make his 73rd Cup Series start, was third in the best 10 consecutive lap averages in final practice. He is also currently fourth in the running order in the Xfinity race that will resume after the Cup race at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET.
See Also: Statement from Ryan Newman
Truex Tough at Vegas
Martin Truex Jr. is the only multiple race winner in the last five races at Las Vegas where he holds a 3.4 average finish in that span. Once his teammate Kyle Busch drops to the rear on the pace laps, Truex will be the highest starting Toyota driver on Sunday. The Pennzoil 400 will mark his second start with new crew chief James Small.
"I feel like yesterday was one of the best practices we’ve ever had," Truex Jr. said. "Just ready to go. The car was close off the trailer and we didn’t have to do a whole lot to it. I feel like he’s doing a great job. He’s working hard in the shop. Our whole team looks up to him, and that’s a big part of this deal."