Drivers trying to get to the front of the field saw a lot of yellow at the 2019 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Only this time it wasn’t the color of the caution flag.
Driving a bright yellow car also sponsored by Pennzoil, Joey Logano held off a last-lap charge by Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski to earn his 22nd career victory and his first in 12 Las Vegas starts in front of a crowd estimated at 55,000.
It also was a victory for a new NASCAR rules package that produced 47 green-flag passes for the lead and 3,345 passes overall, both Las Vegas records.
Other than the two mandatory caution periods after the first two stages, the race was run without a yellow flag.
“It’s intense, you can’t get away, you’re constantly looking around — mentally I’m exhausted right now,” Logano said of the new downforce package designed to prevent runaway victories on intermediate ovals such as the one at LVMS.
“I thought it was as entertaining as could be,” he said. “It’s not very often where you’re going to have a green flag run that long and have a finish that close between three cars.”
Logano’s margin of victory over Keselowski was 0.236 of a second. Las Vegan Kyle Busch, who was bidding for a weekend sweep after winning the truck and Xfinity series preliminary races on his hometown track, finished third.
Older brother Kurt Busch paced several laps during the final race stage and finished fifth behind pole-sitter and fourth-place finisher Kevin Harvick.
Harvick had won the 2018 LVMS spring race by leading a track record 234 of 267 laps, after which NASCAR starting working on a new aerodynamic rules package. While fans on social media weren’t convinced, most of the drivers said it was hard to drive away from other cars, unlike in past LVMS races.
“I don’t know that you’re ever going to achieve what everybody wants to achieve,” Kyle Busch said. “Everybody has different agendas. Everybody has different opinions.
“It is what it is. It’s called racing. You either like racing or you don’t.”
2019 Pennzoil 400
Winner: Joey Logano, Team Penske
Avg. speed: 154.849 mph
Pole: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
Most laps led: Harvick (88)
Lead changes: 19 among 9 drivers
Cautions/laps: 2 for 12 (both for end-of-stage breaks; first race to go without an incident-related caution since the 2012 Auto Club 400)