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Kyle Larson's 'Month of May' is already one to remember

Kyle Larson’s ‘Month of May’ adventure has just started, and he’s already visited Victory Lane and etched himself in the record books – all that before he even gets to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Larson passed then-leader Denny Hamlin at the start of a two-lap overtime Sunday night at Kansas Speedway, then went toe-to-toe with Chris Buescher before escaping with a 0.001-second victory that had to be confirmed by a video and photo review.

The win officially goes down as the closest finish in NASCAR history since the advent of electronic timing and scoring.

Larson’s win over Buescher now supplants a pair of iconic races that shared the top spot previously with a margin of victory of 0.002 seconds – Ricky Craven’s 2003 win over Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson’s 2011 win over Clint Bowyer at Talladega that featured tandem drafting.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang finish

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang finish

Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images

The former is often heralded as one of the greatest NASCAR race finishes of all time and Larson said it’s an honor join that discussion along with Buescher.

“I respect the heck out of his talent. I think if I would have finished – say he won and I finished second, I’m still happy,” Larson said. “But say me and Denny had come down to the finish like that and he edges me out by a thousandth, I’d have been pissed off just because I’ve finished second to him so many times.

“I would hate to (hear), ‘Oh, the Larson-Hamlin finish,’ or ‘Hamlin beat him again.’ That would suck. To share it with Buescher if roles were reversed, I think would be cool.”

Personally, Larson still believes the Craven-Busch finish was “way cooler.”

“That was like a battle the lasted however many laps and came down to a photo finish,” he said. “This was still cool, and hopefully it can hang on for a long time. I didn’t think that was as close as that.”

Larson’s Cup win on Sunday is his second of the 2024 season for he and his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team and came on he heels of a runner-up finish the weekend before at Dover.

This year – which is intermixed with his typical array of sprint car races – has already been a successful one for Larson and his biggest venture – running in this year’s Indianapolis 500 – has yet to kick into gear.

Looking ahead to a busy Month of May

Larson, 31, will attempt to become the fifth driver in history to complete “The Double” and run 1,100 miles in one day, starting with the Indianapolis 500 in an Indy car and then flying to Charlotte to drive in the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race of the year.

Larson is running an entry co-fielded by McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports, which is Hall of Fame team owner Rick Hendrick’s first entry into the Indianapolis 500.

The lengthy buildup to the Indy 500 will provide some conflicts with NASCAR All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway but nothing too serious.

Larson will stay in Indianapolis on May 17 to practice for the 500 rather than travel to North Wilkesboro to practice and qualify for the All-Star race. Former NASCAR driver-turned-TV commentator Kevin Harvick will sub for Larson in his No. 5 Chevy at North Wilkesboro.

Larson expected to qualify for the Indy 500 on May 18 before he travels to North Carolina to compete in an All-Star heat race later that night. The All-Star main event at North Wilkesboro is May 19, hours after the top 12 cars on the starting grid are set in Indianapolis.

“I hope to make it back in time for the (heat) race itself. Kind of don’t really know yet. Kind of depends on how the week is going in Indy,” Larson said. “For sure, won’t be able to practice, I know that.”

While Larson’s Indy 500 performance may remain a big question mark, the rest of the month is still full of opportunities for more trips to Victory Lane.

Larson won the All-Star race a year ago and has typically run well at Darlington – site of this weekend’s race – and Charlotte.

“The way the schedule lines out, for sure it’s just good tracks for us,” he said. “We had a good run last week, finished second and then got a win this week, felt like we’d have a good shot. Obviously going to Darlington, I know we’ll have a good shot.

“Then Indy starts, which is really cool. Then it gets kind of hectic for a couple weekends with North Wilkesboro and qualifying and obviously the double, the 500, hopefully getting everything all smooth and getting to the 600 and having a good shot there, with some sprint car races intermixed in all that.

“It’s really fun, honestly. To this point, it just feels normal to me. It doesn't feel like it’s crazy different than real life typically is for me.”

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