Chevrolet heads to Las Vegas undefeated in 2024

Daniel Suarez reacts after winning the NASCAR race last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (Associated Press)
Daniel Suarez reacts after winning the NASCAR race last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS -- Two weeks into the new NASCAR season, Chevrolet heads into Las Vegas Motor Speedway undefeated.

And not just in the top Cup Series, where Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing won a three-wide photo finish at the checkered flag last week at Atlanta and William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports won the Daytona 500.

But the Chevy winning streak crosses all three NASCAR national series as the bowtie brand has swept the start of the year in both the Xfinity and Truck Series’ as well. Nick Sanchez and Kyle Busch won the first two Truck Series races for Spire Motorsports, while Austin Hill of Richard Childress Racing is 2-for-2 with wins at Daytona and Atlanta.

It the first time in NASCAR history a manufacturer sweep stretched through the first two weekends of a season. The Daytona sweep by Chevrolet made the automaker the only manufacturer to accomplish that more than once. Chevy also swept Daytona in 2018.

Chevrolet has now won at least one race in the NASCAR national ranks every weekend since The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway last October.

But NASCAR shifts this weekend to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which unlike Daytona and Atlanta is not a superspeedway. It’s a traditional 1.5-mile oval -- the type of track that comprises the bulk of the NASCAR schedule and a closer indicator on where Ford and Toyota stack up against their rival.

Only thing is, Chevy last year was really good at Las Vegas, too. Byron won in March and Kyle Larson won in October for a Hendrick sweep of Las Vegas in Cup.

The competition is hardly throwing in the towel and Ford and Toyota drivers are eager to get their new cars to victory lane this season. Ford and Toyota both unveiled new cars for the 2024 season, while Chevrolet made no changes to its 2023 model but has still beaten their updated rivals.

Kyle Busch, another Las Vegas native, has returned home as the Cup Series points leader for the first time since joining Richard Childress Racing last season. Busch holds a one-point lead ahead of both Byron and Austin Cindric of Team Penske as he heads into today’s race.

His climb to the top began with a 12th-place finish at Daytona and then he was scored third in the three-wide photo finish at Atlanta last Sunday. The highest Busch ranked in the standings in his first season with Childress was third following the July race at Atlanta last year.

Busch has not been the points leader since he won his second Cup title in 2019 -- a span of 145 races -- when he still drove for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Now he looks for his first win of the season at his home track, where he has 25 career Cup Series starts with only one win in 2009. He does have 15 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 10th. But his Las Vegas streak is strong with five top-five finishes in his last six starts at the speedway.

He still reflects on his 2009 victory.

“It was huge and such a cool deal. That to me felt like my Daytona 500,” Busch said. “I’ve had some big wins. I’ve won Indy. I’ve won the Southern 500. I’ve won the Coke 600, All-Star Race, all that stuff. But the Vegas win, it was just such a relief and such a monumental win for me because I remember I grew up right down the street watching that place be built.”

He said that win relieved a lot of pressure to deliver at home, but his failure to win again has haunted him.

“I’ve never backed it up. You still want to win there every time you go, being the hometown,” he said. “I think I have four or five third-place finishes there in the last six or seven races. We’re right there, we just don’t get it.”

Notes: Kyle Larson is the betting favorite, per FanDuel Sportsbook. … A total of 19 different drivers have won the pole in the Cup Series at Las Vegas but the most proficient starting spot in the field is the outside front. The driver who started second has won six of the 32 Cup races at Las Vegas. … Busch is the only driver to win from the pole. … Seven of the 19 Las Vegas pole winners are active this weekend. Christopher Bell with two Las Vegas poles leads all active drivers. … Nine different organizations have won the pole at Las Vegas and Team Penske tied Joe Gibbs Racing for the series-most poles at the 1.5-mile track with seven. Both organizations won a pole last season at Las Vegas.

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