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Toby's Take: Chevrolet's Tried and True Body Delivering Results Early in 2024 Season

After a dominating performance at Las Vegas, Chevrolet is three-for-three in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024. And what's wild is that the excellent day for the bowtie brigade could have been even better.


hero image for Toby's Take: Chevrolet's Tried and True Body Delivering Results Early in 2024 Season

Have you heard? The Chevrolet teams in the NASCAR Cup Series are the only teams running an outdated body design this season as Ford and Toyota both debuted new Next Gen versions of the Mustang (Dark Horse) and Camry (XSE).

While many were clamoring in the offseason that Chevrolet would be a step behind the competition as a result of sticking with the tried and true Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 body, the bowtie brigade is batting 1.000 through the opening three races of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.

As a result, Chevrolet now holds a substantial 19-point advantage over Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Standings after Las Vegas.

While a little bit of luck has certainly been involved -- luck always plays a factor in a sport with as many tangibles as auto racing -- as there was a massive 23-car pileup in the season-opening Daytona 500, and an additional 19-car big one the following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Chevrolet teams dominated this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In all, Chevrolet led 237 of the 267 laps in Sunday's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas, and in the end, it was Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson who took his first win of the season.

With only 16 spots available in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and race wins being the only way to fully lock in your spot, the Chevrolet camp is now in possession of 18.75% of the Playoff field, as William Byron, Daniel Suarez, and Larson have already won races, and we're only 8.33% of the way through the season.

The really scary thing for the non-Chevy teams is that even with Chevrolet snagging three of the top-10 positions Sunday at Las Vegas, it could have been an even better day overall for Team Chevy.

The World's Largest Trash Bag

Had it not been for a massive 55-gallon trash bag landing on the front of William Byron's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as Byron was leading early in Sunday's race, who knows what the day would have held for the 2024 Daytona 500 champion.

Not only did Byron endure engine temps of 350 degrees, but he also slid through his pit box on the final green flag pit stop of the day. Not only that, his crew chief Rudy Fugle told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that they found a beer can in their air filter following the race.

Even with all of those issues, Byron still came home in 10th. Had he had an uneventful race, you would imagine he should have been a solid top-five finisher.

Spire Motorsports Showed Real Signs of Brilliance

While Carson Hocevar carried the banner on the day for Spire Motorsports as the Rookie of the Year contender recorded a 15th-place finish in the team's No. 77 Chevrolet, the organization very well could have had two of its three cars inside the top 10 at the end of the Pennzoil 400 if things fell their way.

Hocevar spent 172 laps inside the top 15 of Sunday's race, which was the 10th-most of anyone in the field. And as the race was heading into its closing portion it looked like Hocevar had a legitimate shot at a top-10 finish before he ultimately settled for a top 15.

Corey LaJoie had possibly the most competitive overall race of his NASCAR Cup Series career, aside from the summer race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2022. Ironically, both races ended with frustrating finishes for LaJoie, but the driver of the No. 7 car was mixing it up inside the top five for long sustained periods of the race and looked to be at worst a top-10 car on Sunday.

Then, with 31 laps to go, LaJoie went spinning after he lost the air on the back of his car while battling with Brad Keselowski for position.

After backing into the outside wall, LaJoie would be credited with finishing 32nd, one lap off the pace. But the finish was not indicative of how well he ran at Las Vegas. Even with 30 laps of being outside the top 25, LaJoie still recorded an average running position of 13th throughout the race, according to NASCAR's Loop Data.

Richard Childress Racing's Great Day Fizzles

Another Chevrolet team that was firing on all cylinders for the majority of Sunday's race was Richard Childress Racing.

Kyle Busch, who drives the No. 8 car for the team, led 18 laps and looked to have one of the strongest cars in the field. But a penalty for pitting outside the box with less than 60 laps remaining in the race.

After a pass-thru penalty, Busch was relegated to a 26th-place finish.

Austin Dillon, Busch's teammate, got his best finish of the season with a 16th-place run, but like everyone else on this list, he had a much better race going than his finish indicates. Dillon said following the race that his team just missed the adjustments on the car at the end of the race, which resulted in the 16th-place run.

"Just didn't make a big enough adjustment at the end and got really tight. Unfortunate. We had a pretty solid day around the top 10 all day. Just weren't able to come home with one, but it was a big improvement from where we have been. One adjustment away from being in the top 10 for sure."

While there are woulda, coulda shouldas for a lot of Chevrolet drivers, who missed out on the top 10 in Sunday's Pennzoil 400, the same could be said for a lot of drivers and teams in the field in the Ford and Toyota camps as well.

It also should be noted that the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is one of the most grueling schedules in all of professional sports, and over the course of a long season, teams can find improvements along the way to gain an advantage on the field.

However, after three races, it feels as though the Chevrolet teams are maximizing their performance.

Photo Credit: Tom Copeland/HHR for Chevy Racing

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