If Kyle Larson didn’t win in Atlanta, he needed either Clint Bowyer or Greg Biffle to implode to put him in position to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup via points.
It looked like Larson caught his lucky break in the Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway when Bowyer was forced into the garage early. But his luck disappeared when winless driver Kasey Kahne blew past Matt Kenseth on the final restart to seize his first victory of the season and clinch a spot in the Chase.
“So happy for Kasey,” said Larson of the fellow Chevrolet driver. “But that pretty much ends our Chase hopes, unless we win.”
Going into the final race at Richmond, Larson sits 18th on the Chase Grid, trailing Biffle by 24 points for the final Chase spot and Bowyer by one point for the 17th position. So, though he can mathematically land a Chase spot without a win, it’s unlikely.
Larson said it best. Unless Biffle completely collapses, his only hope of getting into the Chase is by winning Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on ABC).
In his lone NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Richmond earlier this season, Larson finished 16th after winning the pole. The 22-year-old rookie, known as “The Phenom,” owns one top-five and two top-10 NASCAR Nationwide Series finishes there.
By pulling off the victory on Saturday night, he would become just the second rookie ever to make the Chase. The only driver to pull off the feat was Denny Hamlin in 2006.