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)