February 26, 2024

Larson Claims 9th Victory, Playoffs See Major Shake-up Following Kansas

With just 2 races to go before the Championship round at Phoenix, tensions were high heading into Kansas. Kyle Larson locked himself into the Final 4 via a win at Texas last week, leaving 3 spots up for grabs with all 7 remaining drivers having an equal chance to race for a title. Unfortunately, all of those 7 drivers faced challenges during the Hollywood Casino 400 race at Kansas that shook up the playoff board.

LAP 1: Kyle Larson, in pole position, and Ryan Blaney in 2nd place led the field to the green flag. Larson secured the lead after the first lap while Blaney fell to 3rd behind his teammate, Brad Keselowski.

CAUTION – LAP 11: The yellow came out early for a pop-up rain shower over the track. The race was held for over 30 minutes as the clouds passed and was eventually restarted on Lap 15. However, after the rain came intense winds that blew coverings off of pit boxes and made driving conditions difficult. For the majority of the race, cars continued to battle heavy gusts that pushed them up the track in Turn 2.

CAUTION – LAP 25: The caution came out for the playoff driver of Kyle Busch, who brushed the wall in Turn 2 and cut the right-front tire. Busch pitted from new tires and was able to continue racing after the restart.

LAP 38: Trouble continued for playoff drivers when the #2 of Brad Keselowski and the #19 of Martin Truex Jr made contact on the backstretch and both hit the wall. Keselowski immediately had to pit for fresh tires and to fix damage to the right side of his #2 Ford.

LAP 43: Joey Logano, another playoff driver who was already below the cutline, radioed to his team to report a significant vibration in his steering wheel. Logano was told to stay out and continue racing unless the vibration got worse.

LAP 53: Less than 20 laps after his run-in with Keselowski, the #19 of Truex succumbed to his damage and had to pit under green for a tire rub.

LAP 71: With just 9 laps to go in the stage, and while running in 4th place, Ryan Blaney also had a tire issue when the right-rear tire went down. Blaney surrendered his position to pit and went a lap down to the leader.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 80: Kyle Larson won the stage, followed by two of his teammate, William Byron and Chase Elliott. Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the Top 5 at the end of the segment. Larson won the race off pit road but was overtaken by Elliott once the second stage began.

LAP 122: Green-flag pitstops began when Chase Elliott surrendered the lead and came to pit road for four tires and fuel. When the field cycled through, it was William Byron who claimed the lead.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 160: Byron, who is no longer in the playoffs after being eliminated in the previous round,  held off Elliott to win the stage. Larson, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Harvick completed the Top 5 at the conclusion of the stage. Larson won the race off pit road.

CAUTION – LAP 174: The caution came out for the #38 of Anthony Alfredo when his right-front tire blew and caused him to hit the wall on the front stretch. Kyle Larson and the #8 of Tyler Reddick stayed out while the rest of the leaders pitted.

CAUTION – LAP 206: Ryan Newman in the #6 spun in Turn 2 and brought out a yellow flag, which allowed the entire field to make their final pit stop of the day. Byron initially won the race off pit road but had to make a second stop due to unsecured lug nuts, which put Chase Elliott back in the lead. Elliott got a poor start and fell back to 8th, forcing him to battle his way back to the top 3.

CAUTION – LAP 224: A few laps after the restart, the #3 of Austin Dillon got loose in Turn 4 and slid up the track into the quarter panel of the #12 of Ryan Blaney. The #12 of Blaney made heavy contact with the wall and broke the suspension, which ended his day. On the restart, Larson was able to pull ahead and put distance between himself and Elliott.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 267: Despite a charging Elliott, Larson prevailed to win his 9th race of the season, which still leaves 3 playoff spots remaining heading into the Martinsville cutoff race next weekend.

RESULTS:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Chase Elliott
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. William Byron
  7. Martin Truex Jr
  8. Christopher Bell
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Alex Bowman
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Ross Chastain
  14. Bubba Wallace
  15. Daniel Suarez
  16. Michael McDowell
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. Cole Custer
  19. Chase Briscoe
  20. Parker Kligerman
  21. Ryan Preece
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. Matt DiBenedetto
  24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  25. Corey Lajoie
  26. Aric Almirola
  27. Ryan Newman
  28. Kyle Busch
  29. Erik Jones
  30. BJ McLeod
  31. Cody Ware
  32. Joey Gase
  33. Josh Bilicki
  34. David Starr
  35. Quin Houff
  36. Ryan Ellis
  37. Ryan Blaney
  38. Anthony Alfredo
  39. Justin Haley
  40. Chad Finchum