Alex Bowman wins Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Alex Bowman was in the right place and crew chief Greg Ives made the right call to score an overtime win in Sunday’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The No. 48 crew was one of three Hendrick Motorsports teams to call for a two-tire pit stop during the final caution of the day, joining teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron. Larson chose the outside of the front row for the restart. Bowman chose the inside.

The two dueled side-by-side during the final two laps, but Bowman edged ahead entering Turn 3 to claim his first victory of 2022.

MORE: Las Vegas Results

MORE: What Drivers Said

“This thing was so fast all day. Just never really had the track position we needed to show it,” Bowman told Fox. “Man, what a call by Greg Ives and the guys to take two there. Obviously, it paid off.”

The duel was a showdown between Hendrick teammates for the second week in a row. Last week at Auto Club Speedway, Larson and Chase Elliott were in a three-wide battle for the lead with 20 laps to go when Larson dove high for a late block. The contact put Elliott into the wall before he spun laps later, necessitating a word from owner Rick Hendrick during this week’s competition meeting.

There were no such dramatics this week as Bowman and Larson fought clean for the win in Las Vegas.

“Racing Kyle is always fun,” Bowman said. “Got to race him for a couple wins. We’ve always raced each other super clean and super respectfully.”

The final yellow was displayed at Lap 266 when Erik Jones slammed the outside wall at the exit of Turn 4. Jones continued down the apron of the frontstretch but spun back across traffic, nearly clipping Bubba Wallace. Wallace spun to avoid and contacted the inside tire barrier.

Kyle Busch was leading at the time of caution after outdueling his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. for a number of laps. Busch was the first car off pit road with four tires on the final stop but wound up finishing fourth.

Busch rallied from myriad troubles this weekend, triggered first by a crash in practice that forced the team to use a backup car. That car was meant to be a parts car, according to Fox, and was unprepared to race before Busch’s crash. The team turned it into a car that led 49 laps, even after an early-race spin and shifter issues.

“True testament to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said. “Really appreciate the (No.) 18 guys, my guys, but also the 11, 19 and 20, all of them for coming over and pitching in. Everybody had a hand in making us go today so I really appreciate that.”

Filling out the top five behind Bowman and Larson were Ross Chastain, Busch and William Byron. The top 10 was rounded out by Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Truex, Elliott and pole-sitter Christopher Bell.

The 12 cautions displayed Sunday tied the 2018 playoff race at Las Vegas for the second-most in track history.

Stage 1 winner: Alex Bowman

Stage 2 winner: Ross Chastain

Who had a good race: Alex Bowman had a quiet day but was a top-10 car all race, as evidenced by his seventh-place average running position according to NASCAR’s scoring loop data. This win is the seventh of his career and fifth since taking over the No. 48 Chevrolet at the start of 2020. … Ross Chastain led a race-high and career-best 83 laps Sunday en route to his fourth career top-five finish and first since Darlington Raceway last September. … William Byron and Christopher Bell both escaped with top-10 runs in Las Vegas, both avoiding DNFs after starting the season with consecutive early departures.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Blaney‘s race ended at Lap 102 after Brad Keselowski spun ahead of him, sliding up the track off Turn 4 and directly in front of Blaney’s Ford. Blaney finished 36th. … Denny Hamlin spun after pitting on Lap 218 and broke the transaxle trying to recover. Hamlin finished 32nd, outside the top 30 for the second time in three races this season.

Notable: Aric Almirola’s sixth-place finish is his third top 10 of 2022, the only driver to notch such results in each of the first three races.

Next race: The series competes March 13 at Phoenix Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.