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NASCAR: 2020 Pennzoil 400 Las Vegas Interview debrief with Kelli Stavast

1. Fantastic first two stages from Chase Elliott in the No.9 Hendrick Chevy, but, how did Joey Logano took advantage of Elliott ahead of the start of stage 3 which eventually saw Logano’s No.22 Penske Ford with the win at Las Vegas? 

The key to Joey Logano’s victory was really the late-race caution that brought out the final yellow flag.  At that point in the race, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman clearly had faster cars.  Then, the decision of the 22 team to stay out instead of pitting proved to be the winning move.

2. Matt DiBenedetto achieved a fantastic performance with Wood Brothers in 2nd & Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for JTG Daugherty Racing in 3rd, how soon enough will DiBenedetto be able to gift his first win at the top level and with Stenhouse’s ability to show some pace at JTG as evident in the Daytona 500 Qualifying & a few days back at Las Vegas, will Roush Fenway start to get regret soon enough about letting Stenhouse leave that organization?

I believe that Matt D will get the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane this season.  He has already proven that he has the racing acumen to be a winner and now he has the equipment to match.  I think Ricky and his CC Brian Pattie are benefiting from a fresh start at JTG and Chris Buescher has already delivered RFR a top 3, so I think all parties are happy with the changes.

3. It’s a Top 10 full of Fords and Chevys but for the Toyota’s, they have rough time where their highest placed driver was Kyle Busch in the No.18 Joe Gibbs Toyota in 14th, where would Joe Gibbs Racing see their weaknesses from this recent encounter and how will they bounce back in Fontana?

The Las Vegas race was the first real test of the year for all the race teams and it was no surprise to see the typically strong teams run up front for most of the race.   Toyota was not helped by the fact that three of its drivers had to start from the rear of the field—that is a lot to overcome at a 1.5 mile track. However, Martin Truex, Jr. showed that those cars do have some speed. Fontana is a different type of race track at 2 miles in length, but I expect a lot of the same teams/drivers that were strong in Vegas to continue that in California.

4. Apart from Stenhouse’s fantastic P3 finish for JTG Daugherty, pick your best driver that stand out of the limited budget category in this level?

Corey LaJoie is the driver that stands out most to me.  He works his heart out to get results for his race team and I think given the right opportunity, he could shine.

5. How soon Ryan Newman will return to the No.6 Ford for Roush Fenway after a freak last lap crash during the Daytona 500 last week?

I cannot speculate when Ryan Newman will return, but he has made it known that as soon as he is cleared, he wants to get back in the race car.  It is nice to see him in good spirits, fishing during his recovery (as he posted on Twitter).

6. What are you looking forward to Race 3 of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series this Sunday in Fontana? Will we see the repeat race winner like Logano or Hamlin or a different driver this time around?

I’m looking forward to seeing which teams make some improvements from Las Vegas.  I do think we will see a third new winner for the season in Fontana and my money would be on Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson.

About the interviewee

Kelli Stavast currently works as a pit reporter for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage during the second half of the season.

Furthermore, she also covers IndyCar, including the Indianapolis 500, as well as the Olympic Games & the IMSA SportsCar Championship for the same network.

In the past, Kelli has covered a variety of motorsports & other sports such as American Le Mans/Grand-Am, Baja 1000, Red Bull Air Race, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Stadium Super Trucks, Championship Off-Road Racing, North American International Auto Show and many more.

Feel free to follow her on Twitter under @KelliStavast.

References

  • Wikipedia/Panaramio through featured image of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway fronts tretch view via iPhone Photography.

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