Larson takes Kansas Cup win in emotional day for Hendrick

Kyle Larson’s remarkable season continued as he held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott at Kansas to win his ninth NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

Larson, who dominated much of the race, powered to the lead on a restart with 39 of 267 laps remaining and held of late challenges from first Kevin Harvick and then Elliott by 3.619 seconds at the finish.

Larson has now won the first two races of the semifinal round of the series playoffs and remains the only driver locked into the Championship 4. It’s also the second time this season Larson has won three consecutive races.

The victory came on the anniversary of a Hendrick plane crash in 2004 during a race weekend at Martinsville, Va., that killed 10 people, including team owner Rick Hendrick’s son, brother and two nieces.

Kansas Speedway was also the site of Ricky Hendrick’s only NASCAR national series win, a Truck victory in the 2001 season.

During the race, Larson also eclipsed a 2001 record set by former HMS driver and Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for most laps led during a 36-race season (2,320).

“I want to dedicate this win to Rick and Linda (Hendrick). I never got to meet Ricky or the other men and women who lost their lives that day but I felt the importance of this race, no doubt,” Larson said. “It was crazy how it all worked out there at the end.

“Thank you to Rick Hendrick. I know it means a lot to you and I’m glad I could get it done.”

Once again, Larson found some of his toughest competition in the race from his teammates.

“I thought we were a third-place car, maybe,” Larson said. “William (Byron) was really fast. I hate to see the unfortunate luck there for that team (Byron had to pit late for loose lug nuts). They’ve been really strong of late.

“But we were able to capitalize and get the win and hopefully we’ll go to Martinsville and get a clock.”

Harvick ended up third in Sunday’s race, Kurt Busch was fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

As has become commonplace during this year’s playoff run, several title contenders experienced problems in Sunday’s race, including Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

With one race remaining in the semifinal round next weekend at Martinsville, the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of missing out on the Championship 4 are Blaney, Truex, Keselowski and Joey Logano.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Larson the first off pit road. Ross Chastain was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

The race returned to green on Lap 168 with Larson out front followed by William Byron, Kurt Busch and Elliott.

On Lap 173, Anthony Alfredo wrecked coming off Turn 4 to bring out a caution. Tyler Reddick was ahead of Larson when the caution came out so he was scored the leader.

Several cars elected to pit during the caution but Reddick remained on the track and in the lead. The race returned to green on Lap 179 with Reddick followed by Larson.

Larson appeared to get loose on Lap 186 and Byron got around him to retake the lead.

On Lap 218, Ryan Newman spun to bring out the sixth caution of the race. The lead-lap cars all pit with Byron the first off pit road but he had to make a second stop after his car had loose lug nuts.

Kurt Busch led the way on the restart alongside Harvick on Lap 223.

On Lap 224, Blaney and Austin Dillon wrecked in Turn 2 to bring out another caution just as Elliott had moved back to the lead. Blaney’s damage was extensive and he was knocked out of the race.

 

The race returned to green with 39 laps to go and Elliott out front. Larson, however, powered quickly back to the lead on Lap 229.

With 30 laps to go, Harvick had closed to Larson’s rear bumper and was mounting a serious challenge for the lead.

Elliott got around Harvick with 14 laps remaining and began mounting a challenge on Larson for the lead.

Stage 2

Byron grabbed control of the race following a round of green-flag pit stops and easily held off Elliott to take the Stage 2 win.

Larson was third, Kurt Busch was fourth and Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Larson the first off pit road. The race returned to green on Lap 87 with Larson out front and followed by Byron and Elliott.

Elliott got around Larson on Lap 88 to reclaim the lead as Harvick moved into third.

With 50 laps remaining in the stage, Elliott held a 1.3-second lead over Byron with Larson in third.

Kyle Busch and Bubba Wallace kicked off a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 118. On Lap 132, Kyle Busch tagged the wall in Turn 2 and was forced to make another green-flag stop with a flat tire.

 

With 30 laps to go, Logano had yet to pit and remained the leader as Byron took the second position from Elliott.

Once the round of green-flag stops was completed, Byron cycled to the lead on Lap 146 when Logano finally made his stop.

With five laps remaining in the stage, Byron had built a more than 3-second lead over Elliott as Larson ran third and Kurt Busch fourth.

Stage 1

Larson dominated on his way to the Stage 1 win over Byron, leading 70 of 80 laps.

Elliott was third, Kurt Busch was fourth and Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

Larson started on the pole and led the way until NASCAR had to throw a caution on Lap 11 for rain in Turns 3 and 4.

As the rain picked up, NASCAR red-flagged the race. After a nearly 16-minute delay, the race went back under caution and the weather cleared.

A handful of cars pit but Larson remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 16.

Keselowski got a jump on Larson and briefly took the lead on the restart but Larson reclaimed the top spot on Lap 17.

On Lap 23, Kyle Busch wrecked off Turn 2 with a flat tire to bring out a caution. NASCAR said the caution would serve as the competition caution and the lead-lap cars all pit for fuel.

 

Matt DiBenedetto was first off pit road, taking fuel only. The race returned to green on Lap 28.

Larson powered back to the lead shortly after the restart.

Elliott went to the inside of Larson on Lap 33 and took the lead for the first time in the race.

On Lap 35, Byron got around Elliott to move into the top spot. Larson got back around Elliott on Lap 37.

Keselowski was forced to pit under green on Lap 38 for a flat tire and to repair damage from a brush with the wall. He returned to the track in 29th and one lap down.

On Lap 53, Truex was forced to pit under green after tagging the wall and developing a flat tire. He returned to the track in 33rd and one lap down.

On Lap 72, Blaney, running fourth at the time, was also forced to pit under green with a flat tire.

With five laps to go, Larson maintained a lead of about a second over Byron with Elliott more than 5 seconds behind the leader.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 267 3:03'48.336     130
2 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 267 3:03'51.955 3.619 3.619 42
3 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 267 3:03'53.126 4.790 1.171  
4 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 267 3:03'55.071 6.735 1.945 4
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 267 3:03'55.449 7.113 0.378  
6 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 267 3:03'57.241 8.905 1.792 57
7 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 267 3:03'57.689 9.353 0.448  
8 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 267 3:03'58.445 10.109 0.756  
9 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 267 3:03'59.824 11.488 1.379 22
10 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 267 3:04'01.927 13.591 2.103  
11 48 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 267 3:04'03.470 15.134 1.543  
12 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 267 3:04'05.534 17.198 2.064  
13 42 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 267 3:04'06.726 18.390 1.192  
14 23 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 267 3:04'09.457 21.121 2.731  
15 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 267 3:04'11.723 23.387 2.266  
16 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 266 3:03'48.929 1 Lap 1 Lap  
17 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 266 3:04'13.007 1 Lap 24.078 2
18 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 266 3:04'13.461 1 Lap 0.454  
19 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 266 3:04'13.780 1 Lap 0.319  
20 96 United States Parker Kligerman Toyota 266 3:04'14.223 1 Lap 0.443  
21 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 265 3:03'52.430 2 Laps 1 Lap  
22 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 265 3:04'00.341 2 Laps 7.911 6
23 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 265 3:04'14.793 2 Laps 14.452 4
24 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 265 3:04'16.739 2 Laps 1.946  
25 7 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 263 3:03'49.722 4 Laps 2 Laps  
26 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 263 3:03'51.296 4 Laps 1.574  
27 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 263 3:04'01.064 4 Laps 9.768  
28 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 261 3:03'54.181 6 Laps 2 Laps  
29 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 260 3:04'19.710 7 Laps 1 Lap  
30 78 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 259 3:04'12.469 8 Laps 1 Lap  
31 51 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 258 3:04'19.324 9 Laps 1 Lap  
32 53 United States Joey Gase Chevrolet 256 3:03'55.376 11 Laps 2 Laps  
33 52 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 256 3:04'04.356 11 Laps 8.980  
34 13 United States David Starr Ford 255 3:03'55.629 12 Laps 1 Lap  
35 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 255 3:04'08.789 12 Laps 13.160  
36 15 United States Ryan Ellis Chevrolet 254 3:03'50.373 13 Laps 1 Lap  
37 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 224 2:37'35.957 43 Laps 30 Laps  
38 38 Anthony Alfredo Ford 171 1:59'11.212 96 Laps 53 Laps  
39 77 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 165 2:02'10.861 102 Laps 6 Laps  
40 66 United States Chad Finchum Ford 47 41'11.236 220 Laps 118 Laps  

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