William Byron, Joey Logano approach Las Vegas from different perspectives

The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season continues in earnest on Sunday in Sin City, and William Byron already has a leg up on the competition.

With two superspeedway races behind him, the DAYTONA 500 winner is eager to see how his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will perform with NASCAR’s intermediate speedway rules package in the Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“I’m curious to see who’s fast, who’s got the aero advantage or disadvantage, and where all that stacks up,” Byron said on Monday at the Hendrick campus after Daytona International Speedway president Frank Kelleher presented him with the rewards of his Feb.19 DAYTONA 500 win.

“You can do a lot of work in the wind tunnel and all these things, but when you get to the race track, that’s the proof. So, we’ll see. Hopefully, we’re really good. Hopefully, our car drives well.”

If the No. 24 Camaro performs as it did a year ago, Byron will be a strong contender to win a second race in three 2024 starts. Last season at Las Vegas, Byron swept the first two stages of a Cup race for the first time in his career, led 176 of 271 laps and beat teammate Kyle Larson to the finish line by 0.622 seconds in overtime.

Another driver eager for an excellent result at Las Vegas is Joey Logano, who has three victories at the 1.5-mile track on the north side of the city—tied with former teammate Brad Keselowski for most among full-time active drivers.

Logano won the pole position for the DAYTONA 500 and qualified second for last Sunday’s race at Atlanta, but his finishes didn’t match the quality of his starts. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford ran 32nd at Daytona and 28th at Atlanta, leaving him 31st in the NASCAR Cup standings and badly in need of improvement this weekend.

The good news is that Vegas is one of Logano’s best tracks. His average finish there is 10.0 in 21 starts, with seven top fives and 12 top 10s to his credit.

Larson has an even better record Las Vegas than Logano. After finishing second to Byron last March, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet won the Playoff race in October by 0.082 seconds over fast-closing Christopher Bell.

In 15 Las Vegas starts, Larson boasts two victories, four runner-up finishes and 11 top 10s—for an average result of 9.9. After crashing out of the Atlanta race for the fourth time in five starts after the reconfiguration of the track, the 2021 series champion should be a contender on Sunday.

Can any other NASCAR Xfinity driver stop the juggernaut named Austin Hill?

There’s an old axiom that posits that it’s better to be lucky than good.

So, what happens when you have both factors in your favor?

Answer: You’re Austin Hill, and you win back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series races to start the 2024 season.

Hill won the rain-delayed United Auto Rentals 300 at Daytona on Feb. 19, taking the checkered flag in the season-opener for the third straight year.

Five days later, he won at Atlanta when Richard Childress Racing teammate and pole winner Jesse Love—and a host of others—ran out of fuel late in an event that went to overtime.

On Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hill will try to win his third straight race in The LiUNA! (5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

There’s a streak on the line for Chevrolet, too. Chevrolet drivers have swept two straight Cup/Xfinity/Truck tripleheader weekends and are looking to extend that success in the three national series at Las Vegas.

Las Vegas native Riley Herbst looks to disrupt that string of victories in the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Herbst got his breakout Xfinity Series win last year at his home track during a streak of five straight top-four finishes to end the season.

“I’m pumped,” Herbst said. “Not only am I going home, but I’m also going to a track that means the world to me. I started my racing career just next to the big track at the Las Vegas Bullring. That win last October meant everything. I had waited so long for it and, honestly, it just made it that much more meaningful to get it at my home track.

“There’s definitely confidence going into this race, not only from me, but from the entire No. 98 Monster Energy team. We’ve had speed at every race since then, and I know we can go out and contend for the win again. We still have to do everything right, but I’m confident in this team.”

Can any other driver beat Kyle Busch in a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck race?

Of the 32 drivers entered in Friday night’s Victoria Voice Foundation 200 Presented by Westgate Resorts (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), only four have recorded victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Foremost among them is Kyle Busch, who won last Saturday at Atlanta and extended his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series record to 65 victories. Busch has a track-record four Vegas wins, three from the pole.

He’s also the defending winner of Friday’s race. In taking the checkered flag last year after switching from Toyota to Chevrolet, Busch broke a streak of seven straight Toyota victories at his home track.

Having sold his eponymous Kyle Busch Motorsports, Busch now drives a Chevrolet for the current owner, Spire Motorsports. As a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver, Busch can compete in only five Truck Series races per season, per NASCAR rules.

“Obviously, my goal every year in the Truck Series is to go five-for-five with the races that I can run,” Busch said. “You can’t be perfect if you don’t win the first one, so we’ve got that one under our belts. Now it’s on to the next one.”

With one victory each, reigning series champion Ben Rhodes (2017), Grant Enfinger (2018) and Christian Eckes (2021) are the other former Las Vegas winners in Friday’s field.