[Insert cheesy Las Vegas-themed gambling joke here]
If you’re looking for someone to snipe a victory in the closing laps of a NASCAR Cup Series race, you’re likely going to be considering a phone call to Alex Bowman, who captured his seventh career victory in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas.
Bowman, who was able to make the pass for the victory in the race’s only attempt at NASCAR Overtime, once again stole a victory in the closing laps, this time defeating Kyle Larson, as well as Kyle Busch.
Busch had… strong feelings about Bowman’s visit to victory lane on Sunday, saying over the radio: “The same fucking guy who backs into every fucking win that he ever fucking gets backs into another fucking win. Bullshit.”
The words may be harsh, but after the weekend Busch has endured, his feelings are likely justified. The two-time Cup champion started the weekend by totaling his primary car in practice, forcing the team to scramble to put together a backup car.
When it came to Sunday, it didn’t take long for Busch to show that he had one of the fastest cars on the track. The No. 18 got to the race lead on multiple occasions, and looked poised to visit victory lane when Erik Jones pounded the outside wall, drawing a caution.
Having nearly 50 laps on tires, decisions had to be made by the field, with most teams already using their full allotment of new tires. Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and William Byron all changed two tires, and left pit road with the top-three spots.
The two-tire strategy calls by Cliff Daniels, Greg Ives, and Rudy Fugle allowed Hendrick Motorsports to collect three of the top-five spots, with Bowman and Larson battling it out for the victory for the last two laps.
Larson would come up just 0.178-seconds short of back-to-back victories this season, with Ross Chastain rebounding to finish third after leading a race-high 83 laps. Kyle Busch would end up in fourth, with William Byron rounding out the top-five.
Aric Almirola continued his streak of top-10 results with a sixth-place finish, while Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr, Chase Elliott, and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-10.
The 274-lap event – extended from 267 due to NASCAR Overtime — featured 12 cautions and ran 60 circuits under the caution flag, equivalent to 21.89% of the event.
With 12 caution flags in Sunday's #Pennzoil400, the NASCAR Cup Series has seen 31 cautions through the first three races of the 2022 season.
That's tied for the most through the first three races of any season at NASCAR's top-level.#NASCAR | #SrigleyStats pic.twitter.com/hjhW3CuNuw
— Joseph Srigley (@joe_srigley) March 7, 2022
Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, and Ryan Blaney all suffered various misfortunes throughout the 267-lap event, which relegated them to finishes outside the top-30 and a DNF added to their season record.
After the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series season, Kyle Larson leaves Las Vegas as the points leader, holding the top spot by six points over Martin Truex Jr. Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, and Kyle Busch round out the top-five in standings heading to Phoenix.