Kansas City, KS – On what has already been a dominant season for Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team, Larson entered Kansas Speedway looking for his ninth win of the year.
The California native started on the pole and led a race high 130 laps, then lost the lead temporarily before regaining the top spot with 39 laps to go. He eventually went on to win for the first time at Kansas.
The victory was special for Larson and his team as 17 years ago to the day, Hendrick Motorsports lost 10 people, including Rick Hendricks’s son Ricky and his brother John, in a tragic plane crash while on their way to the Martinsville Speedway fall race in 2004.
“Yes, I want to dedicate this win to Rick and Linda (Hendrick),” Larson said. I didn’t ever get to meet Ricky (Hendrick) or the other men and women who lost their lives that day, but I felt the importance of this race, no doubt. It’s crazy how it kind of all worked out there for me to win. I know they were all looking down and helping me out there with all the restarts and stuff after getting into the wall.
“Again, thank you to Rick Hendrick. I know this means a lot to you and I’m glad I could get it done. It’s cool to get another win and I don’t really know how that happened but, our HendrickCars.com Chevy was really fast. I thought we were like a third-place car, really. William (Byron) was really good. I hate to see that unfortunate luck there again for that team. They’ve been really, really strong. I’m glad we could capitalize and get another win. I hope we can go to Martinsville and get a clock.”
Thanks to the qualifying metric system, Larson started the race from the pole position. Stages of 80-80-107 laps made up the 267-lap race.
During the first stage, there was inclement weather impacting the area. The race was able to start on time but was red flagged just 10 laps in due to a rain shower. Thankfully, the shower was brief as the event was halted for 15 minutes and 46 seconds. The green flag came back out on Lap 15 with Larson up front, but the first race caution occurred shortly when the No. 18 of Kyle Busch blew a right-front tire.
Afterward, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates traded the top spot as Chase Elliott assumed the lead from Larson on Lap 33. Soon after Elliott took over the lead, he made his scheduled green-flag pit stop right before the halfway mark in the stage. Byron also took the lead momentarily, but Larson cycled back into the lead and led the final 51 laps in Stage 1 to take home the stage victory. Byron, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick rounded out the Top 10 finishers.
When Stage 2 began on Lap 87, there was a 75-lap green flag run toward the conclusion of the second stage. The only major incident of note was when Kyle Busch got into the wall again after a right-rear tire went down in Turns 1 and 2. Meanwhile, playoff driver Joey Logano was using a different strategy in hopes of catching a caution and led 22 laps out front before coming down pit road for a Lap 146 pit stop. As Logano surrendered the lead, Larson’s teammate William Byron led 18 laps in the top position and went on to claim the second stage. Elliott, Larson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Reddick, Bowman, Hamlin, Bubba Wallace and Chastain completed the Top 10.
Even though the first two stages were quiet, there were three cautions during the final stage. Quite possibly one of the most biggest impacts of the race was due to the final caution when the No. 3 of Austin Dillon accidentally spun the No. 12 of Ryan Blaney in Turn 2 on Lap 225. The accident was severe enough that Blaney was unable to continue in the race, relegating him to a 37th place finish. He now faces a must-win situation entering Martinsville.
The final restart came with 39 laps to go with Larson, Elliott and Harvick up front. The lead was split in a fierce battle in hopes of stopping Larson from winning the race. Larson pulled away in the remaining laps with Harvick and Elliott trailing behind in his tire tracks. Elliott was able to make the pass for Harvick on second, but in the end, Elliott’s rally was too late as Larson went on to win for the 15th time of his career. Elliott, Harvick, Kurt Busch and Hamlin rounded out the top five finishers.
“Really proud of the effort,” Elliott said. “Our entire NAPA Chevrolet team did a great job today and I felt like we had something for Kyle (Larson) there. Just got the wall there off of (turn) two. It’s so hard to get up to him when you are running the fence like that. It’s just tough because every few feet you get closer, the harder it gets. It was a lot of fun. I’m really proud of the way we ran today. I feel like it was a really nice step in the right direction.”
“More importantly, just thinking about Hendrick Motorsports and the family that is Hendrick Motorsports. Obviously, this is a day that nobody is ever going to forget. Just thinking about Mr. Hendrick and all the families that were affected 17 years ago today. Just proud to be a part of their family and hope we can make them proud these next two weeks.”
Larson led nine times for 130 laps en route to his ninth victory of the 2021 season.
There were seven cautions for 33 laps and 23 lead changes among eight different drivers.
Official Playoff Standings heading into the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway:
- Kyle Larson, clinched Championship 4 spot
- Chase Elliott, +34
- Denny Hamlin, +32
- Kyle Busch, +1
Below the cut line
- Ryan Blaney, -1
- Martin Truex Jr, -3
- Brad Keselowski, -6
- Joey Logano, -26
Official Race Results following the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
- Kyle Larson, led 130 laps, won Stage 1
- Chase Elliott, led 42 laps
- Kevin Harvick
- Kurt Busch, led four laps
- Denny Hamlin
- William Byron, led 57 laps
- Martin Truex Jr
- Christopher Bell
- Joey Logano, led 22 laps
- Austin Dillon
- Alex Bowman
- Chris Buescher
- Ross Chastain
- Bubba Wallace
- Daniel Suarez
- Michael McDowell, 1 lap down
- Brad Keselowski, led two laps, 1 lap down
- Cole Custer, 1 lap down
- Chase Briscoe, 1 lap down
- Parker Kligerman, 1 lap down
- Ryan Preece, 2 laps down
- Tyler Reddick, led six laps, 2 laps down
- Matt DiBenedetto, led four laps, 2 laps down
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr, 2 laps down
- Corey LaJoie, 4 laps down
- Aric Almirola, 4 laps down
- Ryan Newman, 4 laps down
- Kyle Busch, 6 laps down
- Erik Jones, 7 laps down
- B.J. McLeod, 8 laps down
- Cody Ware, 9 laps down
- Joey Gase, 11 laps down
- Josh Bilicki, 11 laps down
- David Starr, 12 laps down
- Quin Houff, 12 laps down
- Ryan Ellis, 13 laps down
- Ryan Blaney, OUT, Crash
- Anthony Alfredo, OUT, Crash
- Justin Haley, OUT, Engine
- Chad Finchum, OUT, Handling
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series will head to Martinsville Speedway Sunday, Oct. 31 for the conclusion of the Round of 8, live on NBC at 2 p.m. ET.