Larson’s Vegas Butt Kicking Narrows Racing Lead Change Gap… Some

Been running a lap down and no Lucky Dog in sight.  So this is catch up from Las Vegas to report how the Drivers did with their Racing Lead Changes.

Kyle Larson was the class of the field Sunday and showed the Las Vegas Cup field his rear bumper all day.  

Starting on the outside pole, Larson took the lead on Lap 3 and dominated the remainder of the race, including winning Stages 1 & 2.  This was the first sweep of the 2024 Season.  He was on the point 8 times for a total of 181 Laps, both race highs.  He also had 2 of the 3 Racing Lead Changes (passed the leader without benefit of Start/Restart or Leader Pitting and relinquishing the lead) and held off threats in the final 27 lap closing run, first from a two fresh-tired Ross Chastain and then multiple threats from a hard charging Tyler Reddick.  Misfortune like a windblown trash bag engulfing teammate William Byron’s Camaro and a stuck lug nut on Bubba Wallace’s Camry plus a myriad of pit misfortunes for other competitors eliminated other serious threats.

Larson was never passed for the lead only gave it up when he pitted from the lead.  Finally, he left Vegas sitting atop the Regular Season Points Standing, a pass to the Playoffs and an additional seven Playoff Points

So much for what happens in Vegas staying in Vegas.

Race Breakdown

Here is a statistical breakdown of the passing and lead changes we saw at Las Vegas:

Total Lead Changes 24

Green Flag Lead Changes (P1) 17

– Leader Pit – 8

– Start/Restart – 6

– Racing Lead Changes – 3   

Kyle Larson – 2

Kyle Busch – 1

Quality Passes less P1 (P2-P15) – 1494

Non-QP Passes (P16-P37) – 3184

Overall Passes  – 32% of the Green Flag Passes took place in the front 41% of the field, so passing was predominately in the back of the field.

Total Green Flag Passes – 4659 for 20.1/Green Flag Lap.  This was a new record for the GEN7 Era at this track with 1011 more GFP’s than the previous record of 3648.

Margin of Victory – Larson’s 0.441 second win was the largest of the season.  It was the third closest win.  Last fall’s Playoff Race produced a 0.082 second margin of victory.

Winning Pass- Larson’s winning pass was on a Restart on Lap 241, as Ross Chastain took the lead coming to the Green and Larson retook it before the got back to the line.

Winning Run-Larson led the final 27 laps of the race.   This was the second longest Run to Checkers with the longest of 45 laps last Fall.

Most Green Flag Passes – 186 Carson Hocevar

Most Quality Passes– 93 Chase Elliott

Racing Lead Changes (after three races)

When it came to racing at the front it was the Kyle and Kyle show as Kyle Busch was able to add one to his Racing Lead Change total, while Larson added two.   Here is the overall breakdown up to this point:

10 – Kyle Busch (+1)

 7 – Ryan Blaney

 6 – Kyle Larson (+2)

 5 – Joey Logano

 4 – Martin Truex, Jr., Michael McDowell, Todd Gilliland

 3 – Austin Cindric, Denny Hamlin

 2 – Daniel Suarez

 1 – Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Corey LaJoie, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, AJ Allmendinger 

Final Thoughts

What can you say about Kyle Larson’s performance as he extended Chevy’s Win Streak to three in a row… although Tyler Reddick was coming.  I would have liked to have seen another 10 laps to see if the 45 could have gotten a RLC for the win.

Kyle Larson, his daughter, Audrey Larson and son, Owen Larson poses with the winner sticker after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo by Chris Graythen / Getty Images)

Chase Elliott returned here after missing the race last year due to a snowboarding injury. Josh Berry subbed for Elliott last year, finishing in 29th place, 2 laps down.  Elliott brought the #9 home in 12th on the lead lap.

Berry had his own ride this time around finishing 20th and on the lead lap.

No mention was made by NASCAR or any of the other reporters about the record number of Green Flag Passes.  A 1000+ pass increase should have caught someone’s eye. Does that mean it’s not as important of a metric as we’d been led to believe?

This year’s 3 Racing Lead Changes fell about in the middle of the range from previous races.  2022 saw the highest numbers with a 4 and 5 RLC respectively.  2023 produced a 2 and a 4.  Soif the trend continues we should see more passing up front when they come back in the fall.  Will it be a new record of more than 5?  Will have to wait and tune in then.

On to Phoenix to finish out the West Coast Swing.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (cover): Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.