NASCAR: Kyle Larson wins first playoff race at Darlington

NASCAR: Over the years, Kyle Larson had led a lot of laps at Darlington, but not the final one. On Sunday, he finally achieved that goal by winning the Southern 500. In his career at the track nicknamed “Too Tough To Tame,” Larson, the 2021 Cup Series champion, led 715 laps without taking the checkered flag. This song fits my style and is one that I really like, said Larson. “I simply hadn’t triumphed. Doing it today was a good idea.

Particularly considering that regardless of his finish at the final two first-round races at Kansas and Bristol the following two weeks, it advances his No. 5 Chevrolet into the second round of the NASCAR playoffs.

Larson’s first career victory at Darlington came after he drove the final 55 laps. It’s amazing to add this trophy to the collection, said Larson. One of three or four crown jewels are like this.

At the Southern 500, Larson didn’t have the fastest car; he simply had one that took the lead when other contenders started to fade. Before experiencing vibrations for what he reported to his crew as a loose wheel and having to pit on successive laps, Denny Hamlin led a race-best 177 of 367 laps and appeared to be heading for the victory. Hamlin, who won the first two stages, claimed that “we had control of the race until we ran into some trouble.” That’s only a portion of it.

Despite leading 90 laps, Tyler Reddick was passed by Larson as he exited the pits. With less than 60 laps remaining, Kevin Harvick challenged for the lead in search of his first victory of his final season, but he was penalized when he was unable to avoid entering the pits just as NASCAR had just closed them following a caution.

Harvick was unable to overcome the penalty. Before the commitment line, he claimed he didn’t have enough time to get back on the track.

After several close calls, Larson had a successful run at the track. In his 11 prior Cup Series contests at Darlington, he finished second or third three times and third twice.

In May, Ross Chastain struck Larson as he was battling for the lead. Larson finished 20th. Throughout my entire career, this has been one of my favorite songs, said Larson. “This place has been extremely quick throughout my career, just in the wall.”

The triumph marked the 500th motorsports victory for the Hendrick engine program and the 299th overall for Hendrick Motorsports. For the third time this year, Larson triumphed, winning his eighth race in seven playoff starts.

The No. 5 Chevrolet crew chief for Larson said he and his driver had endured a great deal of heartache at Darlington over the years and were relieved to put that behind them.

This race and this track have been marked on our calendar for a while, according to Daniels. The top seven positions were filled by playoff drivers. Brad Keselowski, Chastain, Chris Buescher, William Byron, Reddick, and Bubba Wallace were the next to finish. In the final standings, Harvick finished in 19th place and Hamlin in 25th. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., pole-sitter Christopher Bell, and Michael McDowell made up the remainder of the playoff field.

Bell is currently 12th in the point standings and on the verge of the second-round playoffs on the playoff grid. Wallace, Harvick, Stenhouse, and McDowell are the drivers who will not advance to the following round after this week.

With a series-best five victories this year, Byron, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Truex’s co-top seed, was pleased with the strong result. I believe this is a good starting point for Kansas, and it’s good to have a strong opening playoff race, he said.

In his first Cup race back at Darlington, Ryan Preece, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver who survived a terrifying crash at Daytona last week largely unharmed, finished 28th.