What bumps? Kyle Larson explains recent success at Las Vegas 

LAS VEGAS—In 15 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson boasts an admirable average finish of 9.9. 

And since signing with Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, Larson’s performance at the 1.5-mile intermediate speedway has been nothing short of remarkable. 

Larson claimed the winner’s trophy in his first Vegas start with Hendrick and since has posted two runner-up finishes and another victory, in the 2023 Playoff race last October. 

In his six starts with Hendrick, Larson has led 421 of a possible 1,613 laps at LVMS for an impressive percentage of 26.1. 

The 2021 series champion noted that the feel of his Hendrick cars is markedly different from that of the cars he drove for Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014 through 2020. 

“For me, it’s just really that (Hendrick’s) setups are really good here,” Larson said. “It fits the bumps really well in (Turns) 1 and 2. Compared to when I was at Ganassi, it’s not that I struggled here, but I struggled getting through the bumps. 

“The bumps felt massive with Ganassi, but with Hendrick, it feels mostly pretty smooth there. So they’ve got a really good package for that, and it allows you to carry a lot of speed. So, yeah, we’ve run inside the top 10 every time except where the one where we crashed here a couple years ago (fall race of 2022). 

“Yeah, it’s definitely been a good track.” 

Long odds at Vegas don’t undermine Michael McDowell’s confidence 

You wouldn’t think a driver who started the first two NASCAR Cup Series races of the season on the front row would open as an 80-to-1 shot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

But that’s the case with Michael McDowell, who clearly thinks the oddsmakers have it wrong. 

“When people tell me odds, or I see them or somebody mentions them, I always think about it as kind of funny, because I feel like we could win any weekend,” McDowell said on Saturday morning at LVMS. 

“I feel like we’re in that spot where we can win tomorrow, but I understand why they circle the superspeedways and road courses for us, because statistically and performance-wise (they’ve) been the best. 

“But I feel our (Front Row Motorsports) race team has come so far that we can be a threat every weekend.” 

McDowell said Front Row’s alliance with Team Penske this season is still a work in progress, but one that will benefit both organizations as they adapt their systems to each other. 

“It’s going to be great,” McDowell said. “It’s going to help us a tremendous amount in the future, and it’s helping us now, but we’re not seeing the potential of it yet, until we’re hitting on all eight cylinders… 

“It’s like going from Windows to Mac. They do the same thing—you still get on the Internet, you check your e-mail, you still do all the same things. But every key that you use is a little bit different. 

“And every shortcut they have is a little bit different. Your right-clicks are different. It’s just a different process altogether, so we’re just figuring out that process so we can make that relationship as best as possible.” 

NASCAR explains violations that earned penalties for Joey Logano, Stewart-Haas 

It was a random check of high-definition in-car cameras that revealed the safety equipment violation that cost Joey Logano his second-place starting spot and a drive-through penalty in last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway—and lightened his pocket by $10,000. 

Specifically, the left-hand glove Logano used during his qualifying lap featured unapproved webbing in all the gaps between the fingers, the largest being the space between the forefinger and thumb. 

Drivers typically use their left hands to try to block airflow within their cars. In theory, the webbing would be more effective in creating an aerodynamic advantage. 

However, the violation involved the modification of an SFI Foundation-approved glove, rendering it non-compliant with mandated safety standards. 

“We have our safety cameras inside all the Cup cars, and we review them quite often during practice and qualifying, and we look for oddities,” NASCAR Cup Series director Brad Moran said on Saturday morning while showing the glove to reporters in the NASCAR hauler. 

“Unfortunately, when we went through the random check on the 22 (Logano)—we did about five cars in Atlanta—we spotted something that was obviously concerning. SFI does not approve any glove with any webbing, obviously for safety reasons.” 

Though the webbing in the glove gives the driver the ability to block more air, the additional material could hinder a driver from getting out of a race car, releasing seat belts or undoing a window net, Moran said. 

“So it’s definitely a safety violation,” he added. 

Moran also displayed the offending roof rail deflectors that cost Stewart-Haas drivers Noah Gragson (No. 10) and Ryan Preece (No. 41) 35 championship points each and the organization 35 owner points per car. 

NASCAR mandates that those CAD-regulated, team-built parts lie flat on the roof. The right-side rails on the two Stewart-Haas cars were machined to protrude above the allowable height. 

“There’s three per side, and they sit in a groove on top of the greenhouse,” Moran said. “They’re meant to sit flat. So (that’s) the problem we had with these, and they were the exact same for both cars. 

“We don’t get into why they’re like that. They were only on the right side of the two vehicles, and they certainly don’t meet the CAD files. So that’s what the penalty was for.” 

Moran said every other car in the field was checked after the violation was discovered, and no other vehicles had the same issue, including the Nos. 4 and 14 of Stewart-Haas, driven by Josh Berry and Chase Briscoe, respectively.