Kyle Larson is in the groove at the exact right time of the season. The favorite for the NASCAR Cup Series championship, who was already locked into the Championship 4, by virtue of his victory in last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, scored his third-consecutive NASCAR Cup Series win in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Larson, who won Stage 1 and led a race-high 130 laps, was surprised to score this victory, as he felt he had about a third-place car at Kansas.
“Cool to get another win,” Larson stated. “I don’t really know how that happened, but our HendrickCars.com Chevy was really fast. I thought we were a third place car, maybe. William [Byron] was really good. Hate to see the unfortunate luck again for that team. They’ve been really strong.”
Larson, 29, has now recorded nine wins in total this season — his first season with Hendrick Motorsports.
This win comes on the 17th-anniversary of the tragic Hendrick Motorsports plane crash, which killed 10 members of the Hendrick Motorsports family.
“I want to dedicate this win to Rick and Linda [Hendrick],” Larson said after performing his post-race burnouts. “I didn’t get to ever meet Ricky or any of the young men and women who lost their lives that day, but I felt the importance of this race no doubt.”
The driver of the No. 5 was able to hold off his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott for the win.
Elliott looked to have the better car in the closing laps, but Elliott bounced his No. 9 machine into the outside wall several times in the closing laps, which hampered his performance.
Kevin Harvick came up just shy of his first win of 2021, but finished an impressive third.
Kurt Busch came home in fourth and Denny Hamlin finished fifth on Sunday.
William Byron rallied to finish sixth, after an extra trip to pit road on the final stop of the day for loose lug nuts.
Martin Truex Jr. came back from a flat tire to finish seventh. Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-10 finishers on the day.
It was Dillon who impacted the Playoffs on Sunday, as he made contact with Ryan Blaney, who entered the race second in the championship standings, with 44 laps to go. The contact sent Blaney hard into the turn two wall, and out of the race.
Blaney, who was running ninth at the time, finished a disappointing 37th on the day.
Kyle Busch was another Playoff contender, who was safe coming into the day with an eight point cushion on the cutline, but he leaves with just a one point advantage in fourth.
Busch smacked the wall a couple of times on the day and finished 28th, six laps off the pace.
Here are how the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8 Standings look After Kansas, with one race left until the Championship 4:
- Kyle Larson, Locked in (2 wins)
- Chase Elliott, +34 points
- Denny Hamlin, +32
- Kyle Busch, +1
- Ryan Blaney, -1
- Martin Truex Jr., -3
- Brad Keselowski, -6
- Joey Logano, -26
Full 2021 NASCAR Cup Series driver standings after Kansas:
Full 2021 NASCAR Cup Series owner standings after Kansas: