Larson beats Chastain and Allmendinger to Homestead Cup win
In a season full of randomness, Kyle Larson produced one of the most consistent and dominating wins of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season on Sunday.
Following a run-in with Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 246 of 267 as both entered pit road, Larson came out with the lead for the final time.
He quickly cleared Denny Hamlin on the restart and held off repeated challenges from A.J. Allmendinger and then Ross Chastain over the final 16 laps, finally clearing Chastain by 1.261 seconds to claim the victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The win is the third this season for Larson, the reigning series champion who had already been eliminated from the 2022 playoffs.
However, with the victory his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team does advance to the owner’s Championship 4 and Larson will have the opportunity in two weeks to win the owner’s title for his team.
“Definitely the best run we’ve had all year long. We’ve been capable of it I feel like many weekends, we just haven’t quite put it all together,” Larson said. “Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) gave a great speech this morning and got us all ready to go and focused and I did my best to keep it out of the wall. I got in the wall a few times but I could still make speed doing that.
“Amazing race car. I knew that that last run was going to be short enough where I was going to be in some sort of trouble there, but thankfully A.J. and Ross were racing hard behind me.
“Happy for our team, and we get to go race for an owner’s title in Phoenix in a couple weeks. We’re still technically not out of it. I can’t win the (driver’s) championship, but it means more to me to win it as a team. We’re going to go to Phoenix and try to get another championship.”
While the end of the race provided drama, Larson left little in doubt who had the best car much of the race.
Once he made his way into the lead for the first time on Lap 27, there were few who could contend with Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet. He led 199 laps and at one point built up a more than 9-second lead.
He did face obstacles, including losing the lead during the final round of green-flag pit stops due to an untimely caution and the run-in with Truex on his final pit stop when it appeared Truex suddenly slowed dramatically in front of him.
Larson got into the rear of Truex’s No. 19 Toyota and spun him into his pit stall. Truex was able to complete his pit stop but lost several positions with the extended stop.
“I was just going behind him, and he had a hard left and was hard on the brakes at the same time, and I ran right in the back of him,” Larson said. “My team said he was late turning into his stall, but I don’t know. If it was my fault, I’m sorry. I don't think it was.”
Allmendinger ended up third, Austin Dillon was fourth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
Entering the final race of the semifinal round of the playoffs next weekend at Martinsville, Va., the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of not advancing to the title race are Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe.
Joey Logano is already locked into the Championship 4 thanks to his win last weekend at Las Vegas.
During the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Larson once again first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 171, Larson was followed by Truex, William Byron and Blaney.
Hamlin got loose in Turns 1 and 2 and hit the wall on Lap 182, which briefly knocked him off the pace.
With 75 laps remaining, Larson remained in command of the race with a more than 5-second lead over Blaney as Truex ran third.
Several drivers, including Byron, Cole Custer and Logano, kicked off a round of green-flag pit stops with 60 laps remaining in the race.
Byron overshot his pit stall and had to back up during his stop. He also briefly stalled his No. 24 Chevrolet.
In the middle of stops, Blaney spun as he left pit road and entered Turn 1 on Lap 211 to bring out the fourth caution of the race.
Most of the lead-lap cars pit but Truex, who had pit prior to the caution, remained on the track and inherited the lead. Daniel Suarez had to restart from the rear for entering a closed pit road.
On the restart on Lap 217, Truex led the way followed by Chastain, Larson and Hamlin.
Hamlin took Truex and Chastain three-wide for the race lead on the restart. He cleared them off Turn 2 and moved into the lead for the first time in the race.
Truex dove to the inside of Hamlin off Turn 2 on Lap 221 to return to the lead.
With 30 laps to go, Truex maintained a 1.8-second lead over Larson, who was closing fast on the leader.
On Lap 245, Tyler Reddick spun off Turn 4 and slammed into the inside wall to bring out a caution.
The lead-lap cars all pit but as the field entered pit road, Larson hit and spun Truex into his pit stall. Larson ended up being the first car off pit road.
The race resumed on Lap 251 with Larson out front followed by Hamlin, Chastain, Austin Dillon and Keselowski.
Larson quickly cleared Hamlin for the lead on the restart.
Chastain cleared Allmendinger to take over the second position with 10 laps remaining and began closing on Larson for the lead.
Hamlin hit the wall in Turn 4 with four laps remaining and lost a few positions.
Larson claimed the Stage 2 win under caution following a late-stage caution for debris on the track.
Truex ended up second, Byron third, Blaney fourth and Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
During the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Larson the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 88, Larson was followed by Byron, Truex, Keselowski and Austin Dillon.
Byron and Larson swapped the lead after the restart with Larson finally getting clear on Lap 89.
With 50 laps remaining in the stage, Larson had built a more than 3-second lead over Truex as Byron ran third.
On Lap 120, Austin Cindric was the first of the lead-lap cars to hit pit road for a green-flag pit stop to get new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the stage.
Noah Gragson, filling in for Alex Bowman in the No. 48 Chevrolet, was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 127, Larson returned to the lead followed by Truex, Byron and Blaney.
Justin Haley was forced to pit under green again on Lap 136 after suffering a flat right-front tire.
With 25 laps to go, Larson’s lead had grown to 6.2 seconds over Truex with Byron holding steady in third.
NASCAR was forced to display a caution on Lap 162 after Briscoe hit the wall and dropped debris in Turn 2 and on the backstretch.
“Sorry guys, I was just super-loose,” Briscoe said over his team radio after he took his damaged No. 14 Ford to the garage, which ended his race.
Larson cruised to an 8-second win over Byron to claim the Stage 1 victory.
Truex was third, Reddick fourth and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five.
Byron started on the pole and cleared Bell quickly for the lead.
On Lap 27, Larson finally caught Byron and got around him to take the lead as Reddick moved to third.
John Hunter Nemechek, substituting for Bubba Wallace this weekend in the No. 45 Toyota, spun off Turn 2 and tagged the backstretch wall on Lap 30 to bring out the first caution of the race.
The lead-lap cars all pit with Byron first off pit road. When the race returned to green on Lap 36, Byron was followed by Larson and Reddick.
Larson went to the inside of Byron in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 38 to reclaim the lead.
With 30 laps remaining in the stage, Larson had built a 2.2-second lead over Reddick as Byron ran third.
With 10 laps to go, Larson’s lead over Reddick had grown to 9.2 seconds. Byron remained in third, 9.6 seconds behind the leader.
Corey LaJoie and B.J. McLeod had both had to start from the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments to their respective cars following qualifying.
|6||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||267||3:05'27.919||4.203||0.464||28|
|15||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Chevrolet||267||3:05'33.286||9.570||0.162|
|24||41||Cole Custer||Ford||266||3:05'34.820||1 Lap||1 Lap|
|25||48||Noah Gragson||Chevrolet||266||3:05'35.928||1 Lap||1.108|
|26||42||Ty Dillon||Chevrolet||266||3:05'36.303||1 Lap||0.375|
|27||45||John Hunter Nemechek||Toyota||266||3:05'49.417||1 Lap||13.114|
|28||31||Justin Haley||Chevrolet||266||3:05'51.917||1 Lap||2.500|
|29||77||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||266||3:05'58.277||1 Lap||6.360|
|30||43||Erik Jones||Chevrolet||264||3:05'25.721||3 Laps||2 Laps|
|31||38||Todd Gilliland||Ford||264||3:05'27.361||3 Laps||1.640|
|32||15||J.J. Yeley||Ford||263||3:05'43.499||4 Laps||1 Lap|
|33||78||B.J. McLeod||Ford||262||3:05'30.259||5 Laps||1 Lap|
|34||51||Cody Ware||Ford||262||3:05'38.946||5 Laps||8.687|
|35||8||Tyler Reddick||Chevrolet||242||2:46'38.141||25 Laps||20 Laps|
|36||14||Chase Briscoe||Ford||160||1:45'28.798||107 Laps||82 Laps|
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