February 26, 2024

Larson Dominates at Texas and Secures 1st Spot in the Final 4

Following a wild cut-off race at the Charlotte ROVAL last week, the NASCAR Cup Series drivers took to the 1.5-mile oval track in Texas to start the final round of the playoffs. Just 8 drivers remained with their championship hopes still alive, which meant the desperation was palpable and made one of the most memorable race at Texas in recent years.

LAP 1: Pole-sitter, Kyle Larson, and second-place starter Denny Hamlin, led the field to the green flag. Larson pulled ahead at the start line with the help of a push from the #18 of Kyle Busch, who started P3.

CAUTION – LAP 25: The yellow flag flew for the competition caution so teams could check tire wear and make adjustments. Kyle Larson had a lengthy pit stop due to radio issues, which let his teammate, William Byron, win the race off pit road and stay in P1 for the restart.

CAUTION – LAP 30: On the lap following the restart, the #23 of Bubba Wallace got loose off the exit of Turn 2 and spun sideways on the backstretch. This collected multiple cars that included Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, Ryan Newman, and several others. The crash set a record for most cars collected in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway.

LAP 85: Kyle Larson fought back from his slow pit stop to make his way to the front of the field, passing WIlliam Byron for the top spot.

LAP 94: Larson had to surrender the lead for a splash-and-go pit stop along with several other cars in the Top 15 who could not make it to the end of the stage on fuel.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 105: The #18 of Kyle Busch won the stage and picked up the valueable playoff point. Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, and William Byron completed the top 5 at the end of the segment and also collected points.  Busch held onto the top spot on pit road and continued to lead from the restart to begin Stage 2.

LAP 117: The #5 of Kyle Larson made the pass on Kyle Busch to take the lead away.

CAUTION – LAP 166: The yellow came out briefly after debris was reported on the backstretch.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 210: Despite William Byron challenging at the line, Kyle Larson narrowly won the stage.  Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 5 at the end of the segment and also collected points. Larson won the race off pit road and retained the lead following the restart.

CAUTION – LAP 275: The caution came out for the #17 of Chase Briscoe, who lost a tire while racing in P8 and began smoking heavily on the backstretch.

CAUTION – LAP 299: Playoff driver, Joey Logano, had his day go up in smoke when the engine on his #22 Ford Mustang expired. Logano dropped significant oil on the track and pit road as he coasted to the garage, which brought out the yellow flag.

CAUTION – LAP 304: On the restart, Kyle Busch made contact with the #17 of Chris Buescher, who got sideways but was able to correct the car and continue racing. Before the #17 could straighten out, however, the #38 of Anothny Alfredo began slowing down in an effort to avoid Buescher and got tapped from behind. Alfredo ended up spinning backwards into the wall, resulting in heavy damage and the car engulfing in flames when the fuel cell broke.  Alfredo was able to get out of his car unharmed, but the race was red flagged for clean-up.

CAUTION – LAP 314:  After making contact with the #12 of Ryan Blaney while racing for 5th place, the #11 of Denny Hamlin had both his left-side tires cut. As the tires went down, Hamlin spun on the backstretch infront of the field and brought out the 9th caution of race.

CAUTION – LAP 320: While racing hard for the 9th position, the #19 of Martin Truex Jr came down on the #99 of Daniel Suarez in Turn 4. The contact to the right-rear quarter panel of the #19 sent Truex into the SAFER Barrier at a high speed, which ended his day.

CAUTION – LAP 328: The #14 of Chase Briscoe got loose at the exit of Turn 2 and turned into the side of the #17 of Chris Buescher. This sent the #17 sliding sideways across the track and collecting the #11 of Denny Hamlin, who suffered significant damage to the nose of his Toyota, while Buescher made heavy contact with the inside wall. Both drivers were able to continue racing, but were multiple laps down. The race went into a green-white-checkered 2-lap shootout with Larson and Byron making up the front row.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 334: Despite William Byron’s best attempts, he could not catch the #5 and Kyle Larson cruised to the finish line. Larson collected his 8th victory of the season as well as punched his ticket to the Final 4 Championship round at Phoenix Raceway in 3 week’s time.

RESULTS:

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