Based on the box score alone, you might think Kyle Larson dominated Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

You’d be wrong. 

Yes, Larson led 181 of 267 laps at the 1.5-mile track. Kyle Busch led the second-most—18. And, yes, Larson swept the first two stages and took the checkered flag to secure his third victory at Las Vegas, tying Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski for most among full-time active Cup drivers. 

The truth is that Larson had to use all his consummate skills behind the wheel to hold off Tyler Reddick after a restart with 27 laps left. Larson had the short-run speed, enough to build significant advantages early in a run. 

But Reddick soon would begin closing the gap, so much so that with two laps left, Reddick was a scant 0.143 seconds behind Larson at the stripe, roughly one car-length. 

Larson, however, was adept at putting his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in a position to block the progress of Reddick’s No. 45 23XI Toyota, and when the race ended two laps later, Larson had increased the margin to 0.441 seconds. 

“I knew Tyler was going to be the guy to beat from the first stage,” said Larson, who won for the first time this season and the 24th time in his career. “He was really fast there. I was hoping those guys were going to get racing a little bit longer behind me, because I felt like it was going to time out where he was running really hard and getting the tow to catch me at the end. 

“Thankfully, (I) was able to air block him a couple laps and get him tight. I thought him and (23XI teammate) Bubba (Wallace) were going to get working together again to build a run, so I was happy that didn’t happen. 

“But all in all, such a great job by this Hendrick Cars Chevy team and just their execution, pit road, restarts—all that was great. Cool to get a win here at Vegas again. Back-to-back, swept all the stages again. Can’t ask for much more.” 

The closing laps brought a familiar pattern that had developed during the race. In both the first and second stages, Reddick was closing fast on Larson but couldn’t get close enough before the stages ended. The end of the race was déjà vu. 

“Yeah, Kyle did a really good job there of pretty much taking away every option I had to close the gap,” said Reddick, whose cause was hurt by pit road issues, including a slide through his stall. “Yeah, he seemed pretty good in the middle, and I was obviously really good on the bottom. He just never let me have it. 

“I kept trying to run higher and higher, and he was kind of running right in the middle of the race track there, was kind of pretty efficient to block both lanes. Every time I kind of got close, we’re running just wide open enough in Turn 1 and 2 that he could kind of defend pretty well. It’s frustrating. I feel like we were never up front really all day long until it got to the stage end.” 

The victory was Larson’s second straight in Sin City and the 10th at LVMS for team owner Rick Hendrick, whose cars have won four straight spring races at the intermediate track. It was the third straight win for Chevrolet to start the season. 

Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney finished third, followed by Ross Chastain, who started from the rear of the field because of an unapproved adjustment to his No. 1 Trackhouse Chevrolet (replacing a dislodged portion of the wrap on his car). Chastain also overcame a pit road speeding penalty incurred during a green-flag stop on Lap 121. 

Ty Gibbs rallied from an uncontrolled tire violation to finish fifth, followed by Noah Gragson, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, pole winner Joey Logano and DAYTONA 500 winner Willam Byron, who fought back from a lap he lost in removing a large trash bag that had attached to the nose of his car on the windswept track. 

Larson took over the series lead from Busch, who finished 26th after drawing a penalty for pitting outside his box midway through the final stage. Blaney is second in the standings, eight points behind Larson. Busch dropped to sixth, 23 points back.