FOX NASCAR Insider
LAS VEGAS — William Byron doesn’t usually text team owner Rick Hendrick during a race weekend about how his car is doing.
But given the weekend Hendrick had with driver Chase Elliott breaking his left leg snowboarding on Friday, Byron thought Hendrick could use some good news that Byron felt he had a car strong Saturday for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I usually don’t text him unless he texts me or unless we’re talking about other things outside of racing,” Byron said. “I just felt confident and felt like we had a chance to win.”
Byron kept the good news coming as he took the Pennzoil 400 win.
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After stumbling in a pit stop, Byron was seconds behind Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson with just a few laps to go when a caution came out for Aric Almirola, sending the race into overtime and crew chiefs to make strategic decisions.
Only one driver, Martin Truex Jr., stayed out, and Byron this time beat Larson off the road. He easily passed Truex and pulled away from the field over the final two laps.
Three takeaways from Las Vegas as Byron snapped a 30-game hitting streak:
Byron leads a strong HMS effort
Byron felt it was important for the organization to win the race, while Hendrick watched over his injured rider Elliott, who underwent three hours of shin surgery on Friday night and hoped to begin rehabilitation on Monday. Elliott is out for several weeks.
“It just shows how strong our teams are and the ability to come together in tough situations,” Byron said. “I speak for everyone that we miss Chase here. He’s a great contributor to the commentary and our reporting and he’s a great race car driver. He’s got a lot to offer.
“There was a void there, but I think we were able to fill it just by coming together as a team.”
Larson finished second and had to wonder what could have been had the late caution not come out.
“Part of you is not surprised, especially me,” Larson said of the caution. “I feel like I would have had eight or 10 more Cup wins if it wasn’t for the cautions in the last five laps. I don’t remember many of them trying in my favor.”
Byron accelerates to Las Vegas win
William Byron praised his pit crew after he took his first win of the season in Las Vegas.
Berry is having fun
Josh Berry said he had fun, but considering this was his third Cup race overall and his first run in the Next Gen car, it wasn’t a huge surprise that he finished 29th.
He dropped a lap early and then had a possible throttle problem during the second half of the race.
“It was a lot of fun,” Berry said. “I learned a lot, especially the first two stages. I think we definitely saw some moments where we were doing pretty good lap times.
“I just fought in the dirty air [in traffic], just know where to put the car. There was a lot of learning to do, but all in all it was a good time.”
HMS president Jeff Andrews said the team will make a decision on a driver Monday morning for the upcoming race at Phoenix.
Berry on Vegas experience
Josh Berry said he enjoyed his time filling in for Chase Elliott and says he’s available if the team needs him next week.
Frustrated Logano leaves
Joey Logano was on the pole, but he was frustrated because he lacked speed and could not finish in the top 10. He wrecked trying to use the high groove on lap 183 and was pinched against the wall facing Brad Keselowski.
“We have to go back to the drawing board for when we get back here,” Logano said.
Logano looked upset about the wreck, but knew he was trying to make something happen. When asked if Keselowski pinched him against the wall, Logano was candid:
“Yeah, it’s a race,” Logano said. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to. It is what it is. We got closure.”
Joey Logano talked about getting walloped by Brad Keselowski in Las Vegas.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.
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