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Recapping the 2020 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas

This is the second installment in a series where NASCAR.com looks back at each race this season and gets you caught up for Sunday’s return at Darlington Raceway. The Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube took place on Feb. 23, 2020 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

WINNER: Joey Logano won this race for the second season in a row, securing the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion a spot in this year’s playoffs. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford led 54 of the 267 laps, including the final two after a late-race restart. 

KEY MOMENTS: Ross Chastain spun in Turn 2 on Lap 263 to bring out the eighth caution of the afternoon. Joey Logano was one of seven lead-lap drivers who stayed out on older tires. It was a two-lap dash to the finish then. Logano was able to keep his lead position and pull away from the pack after a solid restart push from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. There was also a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch during that final restart, so the race finished under caution.

Chase Elliott won both stages earlier in the race and led 70 laps overall. The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet then went spinning into the Turn 1 wall with a flat left rear tire on Lap 220. He recovered only to finish 26th.

RELATED: Full results from race 

KEY DRIVERS: Ryan Blaney showed speed in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford, leading 19 laps, but ultimately finished 11th. Brad Keselowski was then seventh in Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford. Matt DiBenedetto finished second in only his second race driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Wood Brothers is affiliated with Team Penske, so it was a good day across the board for the parent organization.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

1. Team Penske’s decision to change up the driver-crew chief pairings paid off. Joey Logano and Paul Wolfe already made it to Victory Lane together — twice actually, as they were victorious at Phoenix Raceway two weeks after this Las Vegas trip. Ryan Blaney and Todd Gordon were working well together, evident by Blaney’s time atop the points standings after this race. Brad Keselowski and Jeremy Bullins aren’t doing too bad either, with a top five and two top 10s in the four events prior to the COVID-19 pause.

2. Las Vegas showed Hendrick Motorsports was also doing well. Chase Elliott had the two stage wins and is now at three overall to lead stage points. Jimmie Johnson finished fifth, his first top-five performance since he ran third at Daytona International Speedway in July 2019. William Byron was in the lead battle on the final restart before a tire rub sent him back to 22nd. Alex Bowman came in 13th and was challenging Blaney for the lead prior to the final caution. He would go on to win the next week at Auto Club Speedway.

3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a hot start in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet — won the Daytona 500 pole and then finished third at Las Vegas — but the fire must have fizzed out. He was 20th at Auto Club, then 22nd at Phoenix. Remember, this is Stenhouse’s first season in the No. 47. He drove the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford from 2013-19. Chris Buescher is now in that ride.

4. Las Vegas marked the first of three races Ross Chastain filled in for Ryan Newman, who was injured during the Daytona 500 in February and medically cleared to race again in April, with the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Chastain finished 27th at Las Vegas but was able to nab a stage point for the team after placing 10th in Stage 1, which was a happy surprise for the full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver. He was then 17th at Auto Club and 23rd at Phoenix.

5. Toyota struggled at the first 1.5-mile track. The highest finisher was Kyle Busch in 15th. Denny Hamlin, the Daytona 500 winner, was then 17th. Martin Truex Jr. was 20th. Erik Jones was 23rd. The three others — Daniel Suarez, Christopher Bell and Timmy Hill — were all 30th or worse.

2020 SEASON REFRESHERS