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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Larson dominates, wins at Texas

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – OCTOBER 17: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 17, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT


Kyle Larson secured his spot in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship finale next month at Phoenix with a dominant performance and win in the AutoTrader EchoPark 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the opening race of the three-race playoff round of eight. The win was Larson’s eighth win of the season and his second-straight, following a win to close out the round of 12 a week earlier at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.

Yeah, this is unreal,” Larson said. “I knew we had a good shot to win today, and our car was amazing. That’s probably the best 550 package, intermediate car, we’ve had all year. So thanks to everybody on this No. 5 team, HendrickCars.com, Rick Hendrick; this is so cool. We had a lot of people from HendrickCars here. We get to go race for a championship in a few weeks. This is crazy.”


One of Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, William Byron, ran second to Larson for much of the race a week after his playoff elimination and took runner-up honors for a Hendrick Motorsports one-two finish.


Christopher Bell, who also was eliminated from the playoffs after the Roval race, got by Brad Keselowski on the final lap to finish third.


Keselowski joined Larson as playoff drivers in the top-five at the checkered flag, finishing fourth after challenging Byron for second in the final two laps of the race.


“Well, we didn’t need all those yellows,” Keselowski said. “We had the car balanced really well with the Discount Tire Ford on the long runs. The last few times we have been here, you get 40 or 50 or 100 lap runs at the end, but today, geez, we didn’t run more than two laps at a time for the last 45 or 50 laps. That is just not what we needed. We needed the long runs to be able to keep them honest. We had long run speed but the 5 (Larson) and 24 (Byron) were just blistering fast on the restart and drove away from me. I just wanted some laps to let their stuff wear down.”

Kevin Harvick finished fifth at Texas a week after his playoff elimination.


Larson and Byron combined to lead most of the first 105-lap stage of the race. But the stage-one win went to Kyle Busch, despite a pit-road speeding penalty during a lap-25 competition caution.

After the penalty, Busch, along with Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch, pitted to top-off their fuel supplies when the yellow flag waved, again, on the restart for a crash involving more than 10 cars on lap 31. 

“Just an embarrassment on my part,” Wallace said. “Just trying to get clean air, went to the middle and said, ‘Ah, this isn’t good.’ I backed out, and by the time I backed out, it was already around. So sorry to everybody that came here to cheer on the 23 car. I let everybody down, let my team down. So I apologize to them; we’ll go finish it out at Kansas.”


As a result of the extra pit stops, Kyle and Kurt Busch and Blaney were able to go the rest of the stage without pitting again and were the top-three drivers at the end of the stage.


Larson started on the pole and led until the competition caution. Byron took the lead during the caution with a two-tire stop while Larson restarted eighth after taking four tires.


Larson retook the lead from Byron to lead on lap 83, but gave up the top spot to pit late in the stage on lap 94.


Larson won the second stage on lap 210 after leading most of the stage. He took the lead from Kyle Busch early in the stage on lap 117. Byron took second on lap 172 for a Hendrick top-two at the end of the stage.
After losing the lead, Busch fell back to 10th by the end of stage two.


Three playoff drivers — Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. — brought out cautions late in the race. Logano blew an engine on lap 299, Hamlin spun on lap 313, and Truex crashed with 15 laps remaining. Hamlin’s car also sustained damage in a crash with Chris Buescher with six laps remaining.


Logano and Truex were the only two playoff drivers who didn’t finish the race.


In all, the yellow flag waved 11 times in the 334-lap race, including six cautions in the 124-lap final stage.


Three more playoff drivers finished in the top-10 at Texas — Baney in sixth, Chase Elliott in seventh after starting in the back because of two pre-race inspection failures, and Kyle Busch in eighth.


Tyler Reddick finished ninth after challenging Byron for second late in the race, and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-10.

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Posted by on October 17, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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