Alex Bowman Takes The Risk In Las Vegas, Secures His First Win Of The Season
Very few cities in the world reward risk as much as Las Vegas. While we’re mostly referring to the numerous casinos you can find in Sin City. Its race track is no exception to that rule. As one of the most unpredictable tracks on the NASCAR schedule. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is very generous to those willing to take a swing at an opportunity when it presents itself.
And this past weekend, it was Alex Bowman who was ready to risk it all. Which eventually earned him his first victory of the 2022 season in a dramatic battle with the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson.
Bowman vs Larson in the End
Bowman entered the overtime restart battle with Larson after taking two tires on his final pit stop. While everything seemed like Larson would claim his second consecutive race victory, things did not go as planned. Instead, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate stole the spotlight. With a phenomenal overtake in the final corner to claim the checkered flag in an unlikely fashion. To collect his seventh career Cup Series victory.
“This thing was so fast all day, just never really had the track position we needed to show it. But man, what a call by Greg Ives and the guys to take two there. Obviously, it paid off,” said Bowman.
“Just can’t say enough about these guys. It’s been a pretty awful start to the year, so to come out here and get a win on the last restart deal like that is pretty special.”
Finishing behind Bowman and Larson were Ross Chastain in third, Kyle Busch in fourth, and William Byron in fifth. With that, the NASCAR standings look much different ahead of the fourth race. But one name remains a constant – Kyle Larson.
Larson sits atop the standings with 113 points, followed by Martin Truex Jr. (107 points), who placed eighth in Las Vegas. Joey Logano could only manage 14th in Las Vegas. He is still inside the top-three on the season standings, followed by Austin Cindric and Kyle Busch in fourth and fifth, respectively.
A Race Filled With Interesting Events And Results That Flew Under The Radar
As per usual, all the spotlight is on the race winner. The most interesting topic following any NASCAR race is how close the runner-up was to win the race himself. But while Bowman winning in Las Vegas was an unexpected outcome. It definitely wasn’t the only interesting thing that happened this weekend.
Harrison Burton, who placed 16th, was the best-performing rookie in Las Vegas. Moreover, the Pennzoil 400 was his first race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Where Burton managed to finish the track – after crashing at Daytona and at Fontana.
Three races into the 2022 season, Aric Almirola has emerged as one of the most consistent drivers in the field. With three back-to-back top-10 finishes. Moreover, he has claimed his second consecutive sixth-place finish in Las Vegas, following a fifth-place finish at Daytona.
Justin Haley, Ty Dillon, and Christopher Bell
Justin Haley has proven that the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, like the LA Memorial Coliseum, does not suit his style, having spun off on Lap 43 after coming into contact with Austin Dillon. Still, he fought back and placed 17th.
Ty Dillon, who has returned to the full-time NASCAR Cup Series, has made a quiet yet solid comeback. Although he could only manage a 20th-place finish, it marked his third top-20 of the season. Similarly, Corey LaJoie claimed his third consecutive top-15 of the season in Las Vegas – for the first time of his career.
Christopher Bell, who started the Las Vegas race from the pole, looked strong early on. He led for 32 laps before he spun off and suffered a blown tire. Despite the strong start to the race. The unfortunate circumstances denied Bell his first victory of the season. Yet he still placed 10th, marking his first top-10 of the season, following a 34th and 36th finishes at Daytona and at Fontana.
A Season Filled With Cautions Continues The Trend In Las Vegas
Bowman’s phenomenal victory against Larson is definitely the main talking point of last weekend’s race, but many will point out a concerning trend of this year’s NASCAR Cup Series Season. The race at Auto Club Speedway saw a total of 12 cautions, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway offered more of the same.
That’s not too surprising, knowing that the drivers are still getting used to the NextGen cars and seem to be driving more on edge than in the previous seasons. That also explains why there were 12 yellow flags in Las Vegas, marking the most cautions in a Las Vegas race since 2018.
The list of drivers who got caught in an accident included Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez, Justin Haley, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric.
Interestingly, while the bumpy Turn 1 saw its fair share of cars going sideways, it was Turn 4 that proved to be the most tragic of the day, producing several incidents. That included Jones’ crash, which forced the race into overtime.
Across the three races so far this season, we saw a total of 31 cautions (10.3 per race), which ties this season with the 2011 season, for the most cautions across the opening three races of the year. In comparison, the 2021 season saw only 21 across the same stretch.
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**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.