NASCAR at Las Vegas 2021 Results: Kyle Larson Gets 1st Win Since Suspension

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2021

Kyle Larson waves as he is introduced before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

What happens in Vegas...is a victory for Kyle Larson. 

The Hendrick Motorsports racer won the Pennzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, finishing ahead of runner-up Brad Keselowski.


Retweet to congratulate @KyleLarsonRacin on his WIN in Vegas! @TeamHendrick | #NASCAR https://t.co/yfDIBBplk0

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five. 

Larson led an impressive 103 of the 267 laps, topping the field. Keselowski won the first stage, while Larson took the second.

"It was such an awesome race car," he said on the Fox broadcast after his win. "[Crew chief Cliff Daniels] and everybody did a great job preparing this piece. It was so much fun to drive. I could go wherever I wanted to. I knew I had a really good car once we got single-filed out; drafting early in the run was tough."

He added: "Thank you so much [Rick Hendrick], Jeff Gordon, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the amazing opportunity I've been gifted. ... This is definitely special."


That's 20 winning Cup drivers for @TeamHendrick! @ReganSmith talks with @KyleLarsonRacin after victory No. 1 with his new team: https://t.co/ikOhOQBtWE

Jimmie Johnson @JimmieJohnson

First career win for my man @DanielsCliff, I’m so happy for you brother! A big congrats to @KyleLarsonRacin and @Hendrick5Team team!! @TeamHendrick

It was Larson's first win for Hendrick Motorsports since joining the organization in October 2020 after he was dropped from Chip Ganassi Racing in April 2020 for using a racist slur during an iRacing streaming event. NASCAR also suspended him indefinitely, and he missed the remainder of the 2020 season.

Larson wrote a public apology afterward, which included the following excerpt:

"Since April, I've done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African-American experience in this country and racism in general. Educating myself is something I should've done a long time ago, because it would've made me a better person—the kind of person who doesn't casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen and learn.

"The first lesson: The N-word is not mine to use. It cannot be part of my vocabulary."

As for the rest of the race, it was a tough afternoon for a few drivers, including Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola:


Look away, @chaseelliott fans. 🙈 He goes around but escapes major damage. (Via @NASCAR) https://t.co/CIOfnj8TAX


Here's the trouble for Aric Almirola: https://t.co/382nZH4K1y https://t.co/2iYBn6zfCp

While Elliott salvaged a 13th-place finish, Almirola fell to 38th. And issues with power steering hurt Bubba Wallace, dropping him to 28th.

The Cup Series heads to Arizona next week for the Instacart 500 at the Phoenix Raceway on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.