Pennzoil 400 Recap

By Taylor Long

The future is now. At least that’s what NASCAR would say after the Pennzoil 400 this past weekend. The new Aero and Horsepower package have arrived in full force and given us a brand-new NASCAR. Well, that’s somewhat true.

The lowered horsepower raised downforce package produced mixed results Sunday. The package ran at Las Vegas was one step further than the previous week at Atlanta but proved to be a step in the right direction. This week, larger ducts in the front of the car were used to provide a bigger wake from a leading car.

Did it improve the racing to the degree of a Daytona or Talladega race? Of course not. Was this iteration of Las Vegas better than years prior? Most would agree it was.

While the first of the 3-stage race was relatively calm, the second and third looked like a different race altogether. The race produced 19 lead changes under green flag conditions, a slight bump from the previous 5 years.

The biggest win if the day for NASCAR was that there was a total of 3341 green flag passes and 47 green flag passes for the lead. Both numbers were way up for Las Vegas, and for NASCAR intermediate tracks in general.

Many expected a free-for-all wreck fest a la Daytona and Talladega, but the race remained relatively caution free. The implication being that with the amount of green flag passes up, and cautions down, NASCAR has finally given drivers a more controllable package, and fans a more watchable product.

While it wasn’t what fans had hoped for, it was a clear step in the right direction. For NASCAR it was a clear win, one that the organization has not had in many attempts at gaining back fans lost in the wake of era changes.

On track, Penske Fords reigned supreme once again. Teammates Joey Logano and brad Keselowski finished 1-2 respectively, leading a total of 103 laps. The race came down to the 2 drivers dueling for the last 30 laps, trading paint and the lead, with Logano edging out the win in the last turn.

Hometown favorites Kyle and Kurt Busch finished 3rd and 5th. Kyle had won the Truck Series and Xfinity series races on Friday and Saturday but came up short in the weekend sweep. Kevin Harvick, who dominated the year prior, lead the most laps but came home with a 4th place finish.

Ford continued to look dominate this year, but Team Chevy took a step forward in the new Camaros, with Chase Elliot and teammate Alex Bowman finishing 9th and 11th.

This week, action stays on the West Coast, for the Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.