We are two days removed from the second NASCAR Cup Series race weekend of the year, and all anyone wants to talk about is a Twitter beef that has been triggered between Motorsport.com’s Jim Utter and Barstool Sports. Sure, it’s a compelling thing to watch as two media powerhouses in the sport are feuding, but it’s a damn shame that it’s causing many to gloss over the fact that we saw an incredible Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas.
Sunday’s race at the 1.5-mile track in Sin City was nowhere near the snoozefest that intermediate tracks had become before the new high downforce, low horsepower package was installed beginning in 2019.
In fact, there were 25 lead changes throughout the race (a total the track hadn’t seen since 2007) and it was hard to pick a clear-cut favorite all day long for the win. The lead was contested all day long as nobody was really able to break out to a huge insurmountable lead.
Chase Elliott won Stages 1 and 2 with a car that was great on the long run, but Martin Truex Jr. had a solid long-run car as well and Kevin Harvick had things on lock-down when it came to the short run.
They seemed to be the three favorites in the race, however, as the race moved into the closing laps, all three drivers had fallen by the wayside.
Elliott and Truex had issues, which led to them both slapping the wall. Meanwhile, Harvick faded while Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman rose to the front to battle for the win.
Ultimately, the race was shuffled one last time when a caution came out with just six laps remaining. Blaney, Bowman and others pitted, while Logano and six others stayed on the track.
A wild and chaotic restart ensued, and Logano sealed his second-consecutive spring Las Vegas win as cars crashed coming to the white flag. The finish, while it robbed fans of seeing the natural battle between Blaney, Bowman and Logano play out, was still exhilarating as cars came to the white flag six-wide, which ultimately led to the race finishing under caution.
I have been very critical of NASCAR’s high downforce package in the past, as I have felt it was too much of a gimmick, but Sunday’s race — coupled with some of the incredible 1.5-mile racing from a season ago — have changed my stance. Sunday’s race in particular didn’t feel contrived, it felt like things unfolded rather naturally.
In the end, we saw a hell of a race. The package has a place in the sport and I hope it stays (at least for the intermediate ovals). Can we forget about the silly feud on Twitter for a moment and just take a moment to realize how great Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway truly was?
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.