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Larson fends off Reddick to win Pennzoil 400 at LVMS — PHOTOS

Updated March 4, 2024 - 12:33 pm

Kyle Larson had a good baseline of what he needed from his car Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 31-year-old won the most recent NASCAR Cup Series race at LVMS in October, though he had to hold off Christopher Bell late for the win in the second-closest finish in the track’s history.

Sunday’s race was shaping up to have a similar ending. Second-place Tyler Reddick was catching Larson in the final laps.

But just as he did in the fall, Larson remained cool under pressure. Larson, in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, held off a late charge from Reddick to win the Pennzoil 400 by a margin of victory of 0.462 seconds.

“I thought my car drove better (from the fall) from the beginning of the run to the end of the run,” Larson said. “In the fall I would get loose, and even in all the other Vegas races, I would get loose on the long runs. Today, my balance wasn’t bad. I know those guys a little bit better than me, but it helps when you’re getting to the drafts on straightaways.”

The victory was Larson’s third in the Cup Series at LVMS. He’s the leader in the Cup Series point standings after the win.

Larson dominated even though Reddick ended up closing the gap. Larson led a race-high 181 laps and won both stages.

“I felt like we’re gonna be good again,” Larson said. “Did I think that we would win both stages and the race? I don’t know. But I felt like we’d have a shot. It was good. My car felt better than it did in the fall.”

A late caution almost threw off Larson’s march to victory. Corey LaJoie spun off the second turn with 32 laps to go.

All the race leaders went down pit road for service. Larson took four tires and came out second to Ross Chastain, who took two tires.

Larson and Chastain briefly battled on the restart with 26 laps left. Larson then regained the lead and started to pull away.

His lead almost grew to two seconds, but Reddick charged in the final laps. Reddick made up time running the top of the racetrack in his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.

Reddick entered the first two turns on the bottom to try to throw off Larson, but Larson was there to block.

“We were pretty evenly matched, so I don’t know if there’s anything I could have done to get around (Larson),” Reddick said. “He would have had to make a big mistake or had some (lapped) traffic. … A solid effort for our team, that’s how we need to run, but I don’t like running second.”

Sunday was the first race on an intermediate track for Ford and Toyota’s new Cup Series cars — the Dark Horse Mustang and Camry XSE, respectively.

Larson’s crew chief, Cliff Daniels, said the continuity of the car and the depth of the team’s notes helped them win Sunday. He also said the gap between all the other manufacturers will close fast.

“You can say we had a dominant day, but there were some cars that were pretty tough right there with us on the long runs,” Daniels said. “(Reddick) was there every time. The gap is actually tighter than what it might look like on paper.”

Larson won the spring race at LVMS in 2021 on his way to 10 victories and the series title. It’s too early to tell if another dominant season is in store, but Larson said his team is capable of it.

“Today we did everything great from start to finish,” Larson said. “The pit crew, pit calls, restarts, the car itself, myself in the seat blocking the right way and making speed while it was good. If we can carry that on I think there’s definitely potential to have a great season.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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