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OBSERVATIONS: Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Like a typical intermediate track, a spread-out field and track position being critical became everything in the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as most of the good passing came on restarts. Needless to say, you did not miss much if you failed to watch.

At the top of the leaderboard, Kevin Harvick paced 214 of the 267 laps en route to a dominating victory for the second week in a row. Just like last week, nobody had anything for him. Now going to Phoenix Raceway, where he has won eight times, visions of a repeat of Martin Truex Jr.‘s performance have resurfaced.

There is irony in Harvick’s performance, though, as it was believed the Fords were behind the Toyotas at the end of last season. However, the beginning of the year shows a different story. If you look behind the No. 4 Ford, the competition is even with each manufacture featuring a couple representatives in the top-10 consistently. So far, things are on course.

The unfortunate factor is three of the drivers who needed a turn around, both William Byron and Darrell Wallace Jr. placed outside of the top-20 once again. Jimmie Johnson began his turnaround, scoring a 12th-place finish after having to start last due to failing technical inspection three times. His success doesn’t mean Hendrick Motorsports is out of the woods yet, as he was the only driver from the organization in the top-15. 

The race also didn’t feature much drama either, as there were only a couple incidents of significance. Jamie McMurray blew a right front tire, followed by Kurt Busch getting loose, and collecting Chase Elliott. For both Busch and Elliott, it marks their second wreck in three races this season. Although most people tend to not look at the points standings until a couple months into the year, it’s certainly not helping either of their cases. The good news is they both have ran up front, and if they can put it together one week and snag a win, these troubles will be all forgotten. 

Denny Hamlin also wrote another page in his favorite book, speeding on pit road en route to finishing 17th. Hopefully it’s not the beginning of a complete re-write as a year ago, he managed to get caught 11 times. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.