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March 3, 2024

Racing Insights: Why William Byron appears headed for a hat dance in Vegas

William Byron celebrates his win at Las Vegas as he became the first driver to sweep all three stages in the 2023 season.
Meg Oliphant
Getty Images

Editor’s note: Projected finish has been updated as of Sunday:

It might be time for Hendrick Motorsports to break out the big victory hats again this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s because Racing Insights predicts William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet, will be headed to Victory Lane on Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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In the advanced metrics updated after Saturday’s practice and qualifying, Byron still comes out on top and ahead of teammate Kyle Larson. After that, there have been some changes in the projected finishing order since Thursday’s original post. Ryan Blaney, Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick round out the new top five, with Wallace improving six spots over the weekend. Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Chris Buescher complete the top 10. Hamlin fell six spots after practice and qualifying.

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Perhaps the biggest reason to expect Byron to top off the field this week was the dominance he showed on the 1.5-mile tracks throughout the 2023 season. He won the spring Las Vegas race last year and scored 44 more points than any other driver on 1.5-mile tracks in 2023.

If Byron can replicate last year’s superiority on 1.5-mile tracks, then that will be a significant obstacle for the rest of the field to overcome.


KYLE LARSON: Larson won the Las Vegas race in October and has finished inside the top 10 in 10 of his last 12 Las Vegas starts. If Byron doesn’t bust out the big hats, it could be Larson doing the honors instead.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: The two-time Las Vegas winner is the only driver to finish in the top 10 there in every one of the four races in the Next Gen car. Clearly, he and the No. 19 team at Joe Gibbs Racing have hit on something that works well in the desert.

CHRISTOPHER BELL: He’s lurking beneath Larson and Byron in several of the key stats at Las Vegas and on 1.5-mile tracks, but one place where he leads is with his streak of four top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks. Count on Christopher to be in the hunt.

ROSS CHASTAIN: He’s third behind Larson and Byron in laps led at Las Vegas in the Next Gen car. Look for the Trackhouse Racing star to do some more disrupting this week.

BUBBA WALLACE: He’s known more for his superspeedway racing, but Wallace is showing significant progress on 1.5-mile tracks with five top-10 finishes in the last seven races. Plus, he finished fourth at Las Vegas last spring.

Projections as of Sunday, March 3.


Racing Insights’ advanced statistical formula includes current track, current track type, recent performance, team data and pit-crew data to arrive at a projected winner and full race results.

FinishCar NumberDriver
124William Byron
25Kyle Larson
312Ryan Blaney
423Bubba Wallace
545Tyler Reddick
61Ross Chastain
720Christopher Bell
848Alex Bowman
911Denny Hamlin
1017Chris Buescher
1119Martin Truex Jr.
1222Joey Logano
1354Ty Gibbs
149Chase Elliott
158Kyle Busch
163Austin Dillon
176Brad Keselowski
1847Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
1914Chase Briscoe
2099Daniel Suárez
2134Michael McDowell
227Corey LaJoie
232Austin Cindric
2443Erik Jones
2521Harrison Burton
2651Justin Haley
2710Noah Gragson
284Josh Berry
2941Ryan Preece
3077Carson Hocevar
3138Todd Gilliland
3271Zane Smith
3342John H. Nemechek
3431Daniel Hemric
3544J.J. Yeley
3615Kaz Grala
3716Derek Kraus