NASCAR: Three takeaways from Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - JUNE 10: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Cardell Caninetry Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway did not disappoint, seeing 27 lead changes en route to a Kyle Larson victory. It was one of the more entertaining races at Las Vegas in recent history, seeing intense restarts and overall good racing. Here are three takeaways from the fourth NASCAR Cup Series event of the season:

Four races, four winners

The Cup Series continued the trend of a new winner each week as it was Kyle Larson taking home the checkered flag. Although it was his 7th career victory, it was his first since 2019 at Dover. Before the Las Vegas race, Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell picked up their first career victories while William Byron won his second career race last weekend. The underdog trend continued once again.

Although Bell, Byron, and Larson were all expected to make the playoffs, them being locked in this early adds a wrinkle into the season. A quarter of the available playoff spots have already been secured, putting more pressure on some of the bigger names like Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano to get a win.

Blaney, Busch bounce back

After rough starts to the season, both Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch had bounce-back performances on Sunday in Las Vegas. Both drivers finished in the top-5 for the first time this season with Blaney picking up some stage points along the way. Blaney hadn’t finished better than 15th before Las Vegas, while Busch had finished 10th last weekend at Homestead-Miami.

Both Blaney and Busch needed strong finishes to boost their points position, and they each did so. The drivers now sit in the top-16 of points, which are inside the playoff cut line.

DiBenedetto continues to struggle

Once again, Matt DiBenedetto continued his streak of bad luck, finishing 16th in Las Vegas. He had a top-5 run going before his final pitstop, where the air gun broke while changing the front left tire. The team was forced to leave the left front tire on for another run, leading to DiBenedetto having to baby the tire to make sure it didn’t blow. His having to baby the tire led to him falling out of contention.

While 16th is their best finish of the season, it’s nowhere what’s expected of the team. DiBenedetto essentially drives Penske cars, meaning top-10s are expected of him. However, he has gotten caught up in wrecks and bad luck in each of their four races and sits 30th in points. Despite that, the No. 21 team sits just 52 points out of a playoff spot, and good races at Phoenix and Atlanta could put him back in the playoff picture.