What’s old is new: Ford and Chevrolet dominate Las Vegas top 10 as Toyota struggles
LAS VEGAS — The old Ford vs. Chevrolet rivalry was revived once more in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400.
Chevrolet took six of the first ten finishing spots and Ford took the other four, with Joey Logano and Matt DiBenedetto claiming the first two spots.
The highest finishing Chevrolet driver was Ricky Stenhouse Jr who led 30 laps on the day in his no. 47 Kroger Chevrolet.
The Pennzoil 400 was the first race for Chevrolet’s amended Chevrolet body featuring a new nose. The nose is smoother and features dive planes on both sides of the bumper to aid with racing in dirty air.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished fifth in a Chevrolet. It was his first top 5 at Las Vegas since the 2016 spring race. The finish marked a clear improvement for the Chevrolet nose from years past.
“Last year, we could make the cars drive well but couldn’t catch the cars in front of us and the guys behind would run us down.” Johnson commented. “I could ease up on people and pull ahead of other makes which was nice.
“We’re creating more downforce with less drag and that’s where the raw speed comes from.”
Toyota teams had struggles throughout the weekend with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell all being penalized 10 driver points and 10 owner points and being sent to the rear.
The struggles continued as the race started. Daniel Suarez did not get going and brought out the first caution. Once the race really got underway, neither Hamlin nor Bell nor Erik Jones could go anywhere.
Hamlin only spent 28% of the race inside the top 15 while Jones spent 4.5% inside the top 15 and Bell spent only 0.8% of it inside the top 15 and ran into troubles near the end of Stage 2.
Even Busch, who spent 67.8% of the race inside the top 15, averaged just a 14th place running position throughout the race. Toyota’s bright spot, Martin Truex Jr., even ran into issues late, having hit the wall on Lap 177 to take him out of contention.
Busch finished 15th Sunday and ended as the highest-finishing Toyota driver.
It remains to be seen if Ford and Chevrolet will continue their domination heading to Fontana. For now, it appears that an old rivalry is back and a new dominator has work to do.
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