Rolling The Dice: Kyle Larson Wins NASCAR Cup Series Event At Las Vegas

Kyle Larson celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Larson left little to chance Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway leading a race best 103 laps and pulling away to a convincing 3.156-second win over former NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski to win the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube – his first victory in two years.

Larson, 28, of Elk Grove, Calif. became the quickest winner in Hendrick Motorsports long and esteemed history, taking the checkered flag in only his fourth start in the team’s famous No. 5 Chevrolet. 

It was a hard-earned and highly-emotional win for Larson, who missed most of last season serving a suspension for using racially-insensitive language. The popular young Californian was reinstated by NASCAR in the offseason after following a course of rehabilitation and sensitivity training. He came into the season with the Hendrick Motorsports opportunity, grateful and ready to redeem himself.

Larson was exuberant speaking to the team on the radio while driving under the checkered flag as the race winner. He did celebratory burnouts on the backstretch and then again under the flag-stand on the frontstretch telling his Hendrick Motorsports team on the car radio, “What a car, what an opportunity. Thank you, guys.”

Just as Larson was finishing his live television interview, Keselowski ran across the infield grass to shake Larson’s hand and congratulate him on a powerful race performance.

“I’m just really happy for him, I know he’s been through a lot in the last year and he’s a good kid who I’ve known for a little while and has a good family and I’m just happy to see him bounce back,” the Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski said. 

“He was really fast – had a lot of speed in all the lanes which was really impressive, usually you have to make a compromise, but they were really good. If Kyle Larson wasn’t here, we would have had a dominant day,” Keselowski added with a smile.

It was a highly competitive race from green to checkered flag with 27 lead changes among 12 different drivers. Five drivers led at least 20 laps. Keselowski won Stage 1 and Larson won Stage 2 – the first stage victories for both drivers this season.

In all, Larson led a race best six times, working his Chevrolet back to the front no matter the challenge, ultimately pacing the field for the last 30 laps en route to his seventh career win. It is his first on a 1.5-mile track after nine previous runner-up finishes on mile-and-a-half venues.

“It was such an awesome car,” Larson said. “Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody did a great job preparing this piece. It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I know we had a really good car once we would kind of get single-filed out; but just drafting early in the run was tough.

“But thank you so much Mr. Hendrick, Jeff Gordon and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the amazing opportunity I’ve been gifted. Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet everybody at the engine shop. Thank you so much for all the hard work. This is definitely special.”

Larson and Keselowski managed to use the final portion of the race to get around  the full-on Joe Gibbs Racing team, whose drivers combined to lead 53 laps on the afternoon. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch – a Las Vegas native – and Denny Hamlin finished third and fourth. Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney was fifth, his first top 10 of the season.

Two more Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, driven by Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell were sixth and seventh, followed by last week’s winner, Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron. Team Penske driver Joey Logano and Richard Petty Motorsport’s driver Erik Jones rounded out the top 10.

Larson’s teammate Chase Elliott – the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion – finished 13th after overcoming several problems. His team had a jack issue in the pits and contact with another car made for multiple long pit stops.

“We were good on the short run, just didn’t quite have enough long run speed,” said Denny Hamlin, who led 47 laps on the day. “Certainly I thought it was a good start, we’ll just gather our data and try to figure out what we need to do to be better when we come back here and it really counts.”

Hamlin and Keselowski, who are still looking for their first wins of the 2021 season sit atop the championship points standings. Hamlin leads by 38 points over Keselowski and Larson is third.

The series heads to Phoenix Raceway for next Sunday’s Instacart 500 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – always an important race as the one-mile Phoenix track is where the series races for the championship in the Nov. 7 season-finale.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 24th Annual Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas, Nevada

Sunday, March 7, 2021

               1. (3)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.

               2. (10)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.

               3. (14)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.

               4. (6)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.

               5. (26)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.

               6. (4)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.

               7. (16)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 267.

               8. (2)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.

               9. (15)  Joey Logano, Ford, 267.

               10. (29)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 267.

               11. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 267.

               12. (12)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

               13. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.

               14. (18)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 267.

               15. (19)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 266.

               16. (30)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 266.

               17. (5)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 266.

               18. (13)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 266.

               19. (7)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 266.

               20. (1)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 266.

               21. (24)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 266.

               22. (11)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 266.

               23. (21)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 266.

               24. (27)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 266.

               25. (20)  Cole Custer, Ford, 266.

               26. (22)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 265.

               27. (9)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 265.

               28. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 262.

               29. (25)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 262.

               30. (34)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 260.

               31. (31)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 259.

               32. (32)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 259.

               33. (36)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 256.

               34. (37)  Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 255.

               35. (35)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 252.

               36. (38)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 246.

               37. (33)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Rear End, 188.

               38. (28)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 178.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  139.615 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 52 Mins, 7 Secs. Margin of Victory:  3.156 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 30 laps.

Lead Changes:  27 among 12 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick 0;W. Byron 1-19;C. Elliott 20-26;K. Larson 27-30;D. Hamlin 31-43;K. Larson 44-52;J. Logano 53;B. Keselowski 54-55;J. Logano 56-61;C. Elliott 62-71;B. Keselowski 72-73;C. Elliott 74-78;B. Keselowski 79-82;R. Blaney 83;D. Hamlin 84-87;B. Keselowski 88-106;K. Larson 107-123;W. Byron 124-129;T. Reddick 130-136;M. McDowell 137-145;A. Alfredo # 146;K. Larson 147-169;D. Hamlin 170-185;M. Truex Jr. 186-191;D. Hamlin 192-205;K. Larson 206-225;D. Suarez 226-237;K. Larson 238-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson 6 times for 103 laps; Denny Hamlin 4 times for 47 laps; Brad Keselowski 4 times for 27 laps; William Byron 2 times for 25 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 22 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 12 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 9 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 7 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 7 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 6 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Anthony Alfredo # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,9,12,11,48,20,24,21,22,19

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,2,11,24,12,48,20,19,18,9


  1. I Said He Would Be Back This Year In A Good Ride. Like I Said, Too Much Talent To Be Sitting On The Sidelines!!

  2. Always wondered what Larson would do in top notch equipment in Cup ? Questions answered!! Wow what a show, Big Win !! Nice job by Ryan Preece running in top ten, top 20 mostly all day, Nice turnaround season for Ryan so far.!!

  3. I Agree With You ,Suitcase. Ryan Did A Damn Good Job!!

  4. Viva Race Fan says

    Love this kid and now in Mark Martin’s 5 car . My last favorite driver . In the Chase now can’t wait for Bristol he’s now free rolling . This is going to be a fun watch .

  5. Is Larson some kind of phenom that through a skill level far about his peers can will a car to victory lane. Perhaps but in this case I’d suggest something else may be going on.
    Chevrolet won the manufacturer championship last in 2015 after winning it for 13 years in a row. Since then it’s been Ford and Toyota. This year Hendrick’s cars appear to have made a jump in performance. It’s early but they have two wins and lead the manufacturer standings. JTG Daugherty uses Hendrick power and may be benefiting as well.
    It seemed like something was different this year that didn’t come down to just luck or circumstance, Both Stenhouse and Preece are more competitive on the different types of tracks they’ve raced on so far. I don’t follow Stenhouse but we’ve seen Preece in the past running well, fight like hell then fade. He’s not just fading this year. When he fades the team has the ability to fight back. Maybe the 37 and 47 have more power and maybe the 37 car as a team has caught up to the 47 team in putting it all together one the track.

  6. The Atomic Punk says

    Nice to see cancel culture(Dems) were not allowed to ruin the kids life for a mistake he once made.

  7. Larson is good on the track. He’s been low-key, no drama, except for that incident. The times we are in, with elevated civil rights issues, was a double whammy. It will hang over him forever, but he will survive. Perhaps it can make him better, and he can help make the whole civil rights issues we are dealing with get better. His statements were rather compelling, especially given his Asian heritage.

    I was listening to Public Radio over the weekend, and a civil rights issue was the topic. They were talking about how TV viewership of sports dropped off dramatically during the pandemic. 😷 Some tried to say it was due to the civil rights rights stuff, like athletes in the NBA and NFL taking a knee. A black woman on the panel responded that the Kentucky Derby experienced a 48% reduction in viewership and no horses were ever reported to take a knee.

  8. The Atomic Punk,

    Give it a rest with the cancel culture narrative. I’ll be the first to say that some elements of cancel culture have gotten a little ridiculous, but this instance was not cancel culture. Kyle Larson cancelled Kyle Larson, simple as that.
    I own a business. I understand that my actions and how I represent my business could have consequences. Kyle Larson’s business is racing and he’s involved in a sport where his livelihood is dependent on money from billion dollar companies. Those companies expect their brand to be represented in a certain way. Represent them in a negative manner and you’re probably going to lose them. That’s not cancel culture, that’s how the business works. It’s how it worked 30 years ago and it’s how it works today. If Kyle Busch goes on TV and says M&M’s are awful he’s probably going to lose his sponsor. Is that cancel culture? No it’s not. You get paid to represent a company in a positive light and if you don’t do that you lose your sponsorship. Kyle Larson said something ignorant in a public forum and there were consequences to his actions. The billion dollar companies he represented didn’t want to be associated with him. The team owner who employed him made the decision to fire him. The sanctioning body made the decision to suspend. All of those actions were consequences of saying something really stupid, not cancel culture.

  9. The Atomic Punk says

    Breaking news….Sorry Shawn, ya cant hide from it…. French Skunk PePe Le Pew has been cut from the movie Space Jam 2….. Wish I could drop it but society wont let me.

  10. The Atomic Punk,
    You can sit here and throw out 700 examples of cancel culture gone too far, but it doesn’t change the fact that cancel culture was not the reason for the consequences faced by Kyle Larson for his very ignorant misstep.
    Kyle Larson wasn’t a victim of cancel culture, he was a victim of himself. A victim of his own ignorance to how the sport he was involved in works. The fact that you don’t get that just shows that you have little to no understanding of how the world of big business marketing through sports works. A company pays you to represent them publicly through sponsorship. If your actions bring negative attention to them you pay the consequences for that. Kyle Larson cancelled Kyle Larson all by himself. The fact that you don’t understand that or refuse to accept that only shows you don’t have an understanding of the economics of top level motorsports.

  11. Atomic, it’s called capitalism. It’s been going on like this forever. It’s called spend your money where you want to.

    Do you think the 80 million that voted for Biden cancelled Trump?

    You should also note that Hendricks is funding/sponsoring Larson, Larson does not have major sponsorship, at least I haven’t seen any signs of it yet. Hendricks needs to win, and if he can acquire a talent like Larson, he will.

  12. The Atomic Punk says

    80 million??….. Now THAT is funny…. Moving on….

  13. Something else is new since the incident that got Larson fired that must be having an impact on him regarding the dangers of offensive race based labels. That would be the inordinate rise in unprovoked attacks on Asian Americans since the “ChinaVirus” started killing people in large numbers. Larson’s mom is Japanese American. Americans being attacked and you don’t even have to be of Chinese ancestry to qualify. Anyone appearing Asian can qualify.
    Larson did everything right and more to redeem himself. Nonetheless knowing your mom could be sucker punched simply by walking in public while Asian makes it so much more personal.

  14. Atomic Punk wrote, “ 80 million??….. Now THAT is funny…. Moving on….”

    Okay, it’s really 81,286,564.

    That was more than 7,000,000 more than Trump.

    Even the Electoral College couldn’t save him. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t save him.

  15. 🌈🦄2020 says

    CNN says that cancel culture isn’t real. In unrelated news, Eminem is the latest cancel target. At least according to CNN.

  16. 🌈🦄2020,
    Nowhere did I say that cancel culture wasn’t real.
    I stated that Kyle Larson was not a victim of cancel culture.
    Sometimes communicating with you guys is seriously like talking to four year old children.

  17. 🌈🦄2020 says

    I didn’t say you said cancel culture wasn’t real, unless you work for CNN.😄

  18. The political right has co opted “cancel culture” as they did political correctness, re- branded them as bad things and through a series of dot connections interpreted it as an infringement on free speech. All to provide bits to fill air time and outrage a receptive audience. Pepe la Pew became a star of talk media as soon as the announcement was made.
    Like anything, social regulation can be taken to an extreme. Mostly political correctness and the cancel culture are tools that have been around as long as societies. They establish through self regulation a code of civil conduct and acceptable norms societies must have to function efficiently.
    The absence of it with regard to the last president who was the antithesis of political correctness and to which the president was immune to the cancel culture is a good reason to be grateful they exist in my view. Within reason of course.

  19. 🌈🦄2020 says

    The right co opted cancel culture. Explains why CNN would come out with a story about how it’s not real. Move along. Nothing to see here.

  20. Bill Realist says

    Kyle Larson just un canceled himself with Rick Hendricks help

  21. “Cancel culture, as it’s understood today, isn’t real.”
    That’s the line in the CNN story that’s being repeated here. Taken out of context and repeated all across the country on talk media as a left leaning cable news outlet saying that the cancel culture does not exist and ultimately finding it’s way into RaceDayCT. Problem is the article it appeared in goes on to make a case for it’s inappropriate application in the current political environment Not saying it doesn’t exist at all.
    “The term “cancel culture” actually began among vast, amorphous social media groups and online fandoms.”
    Read the article and at least get the basics right.

  22. Bill Realist,
    I’d definitely agree he’s on his way. Though it’s pretty telling that corporate America has still not welcomed him with open arms quite yet. I’m sure Rick Hendrick isn’t thrilled about having to sponsor Larson himself, but I’d imagine with more victories and time some sponsors will warm back up to him.

  23. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Today’s news headline. Dumbo and Peter Pan, cancelled. I think the next poll should be who or what will be “cancelled” next. BLM is even getting into the mix as their co founder is calling for a boycott of the Royal family. The Royal family? Cancel them! 🤣🤣🤣

  24. Ah to be Pepe le Pew’s agent now. He’s more popular then ever. The phone must be ringing of the hook (so to speak) for interviews and speech appearances at Republican fund raisers as the female members of the hard right swoon at his mere mention.

  25. Let’s be clear… Larson and Hendrick are under a scanning electron microscope.

    The slightest perceived misstep and this reprisal is over, this Phoenix is ashes and will never rise again.

  26. 🌈🦄2020 wrote, “Today’s news headline. Dumbo and Peter Pan, cancelled. I think the next poll should be who or what will be “cancelled” next. BLM is even getting into the mix as their co founder is calling for a boycott of the Royal family. The Royal family? Cancel them! 🤣🤣🤣”

    Interesting. 🤔 Back around 1806, England passed a law mandating that in order to do business with England, no trading partner can use slave labor in the production of any of the traded goods. Back then, England was the 1,600 pound gorilla in the room. This was the start of what eventually became the American Civil War. The Royal family also runs the Church of England, I believe the Anglicans, and as such, when reviewing their own sugar plantation operations in the New World, which used slaves, they deemed slavery to be deplorable, and began the process to stop slavery.

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