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Larson Keeps Foot On The Playoff Gas

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 24 2021

Kyle Larson won his third straight Cup race on Sunday. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Apparently, Kyle Larson doesn’t take days off.

Though already locked into the four-driver championship-deciding NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix in two weeks, Larson refused to merely just ride around on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Larson held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate and fellow Playoffs driver Chase Elliott over the final 14 laps to win the Hollywood Casino 400.

The victory in the Round of 8 race was Larson’s third in a row and his series-best ninth on the season.

“Glad we could capitalize and get another win and hopefully we can go to Martinsville (Speedway, site of next weekend’s final race in the Round of 8) and get a clock” which serves as the trophy at the storied short track,” Larson said.

His margin of victory over Elliott, who scraped the wall several times over the last several laps, was 3.6 seconds.

Larson, who secured his admission to the Championship race at Phoenix in two weeks when he won last weekend at Texas, led the most laps by far.

“Pulled together a win and I really don’t know how that happened,” Larson said, noting his contact with the wall in the late going. “I though that we were like a third-place car maybe.”

As he attempted to track Larson down over the final laps, Elliott, who will start Martinsville 34 points above the cut line, scraped the wall several times and that cost him his shot.

“Didn’t really have a choice (but to end his pursuit of the win),” Elliott said. “Once I hit it, it hurt it (his car) pretty bad.

“Though we had something for Kyle there. Just got the wall there off of (Turn) 2 (trying )to get up to him. Every few feet you get close to him, the harder it gets.”

Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing is not a Playoffs contender and came up short in his bid to get his first win of the season after challenging Larson for the lead late in the race. Harvick finished third.

Fourth was Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing while championship contender Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing was fifth.

Hamlin, who will hit Martinsville 32 points above the cutline, described his day as being, “Not a lot of briliance. Just very average, Certainly not fast enough to run with the Chevys and Hendrick Cars right now on these type of race tracks. Just hope to have a solid day next week and move on.”

Martin Truex, Jr. of JGR, was seventh and Joey Logano of Team Penske, was ninth. They will start Martinsville three and 26 below the cut line respectively.

Kansas was tough on several teams and drivers who are still in the Playoffs.

Kyle Busch was the first Playoffs driver to run into trouble.

On Lap 23, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver scraped the outside wall while running eighth. His crew went to work kept him on the lead lap.

By the end of the first stage, Busch had driven to ninth place and collect two stage points. But on Lap 133, Busch again slapped the wall. He had to pit and again fell off the lead lap. Worse for the two-time champion, the damage he suffered seriously slowed his car. He finished 28th.

On Lap 38, Playoff driver Brad Keselowski popped the wall with his right front fender. He slowed considerably until a flat tire sent him to the pits. As a result, he fell off the lead lap. Keselowski had led a couple laps early in the race and appeared to have good speed. He wound up 17th, a lap off the lead.

He will be six point below the cut line next week. 

With 44 laps to go, contender Ryan Blaney of Team Penske tangled with Austin Dillon and as a result, he slammed the wall with running top 10. His race was over.

He will start Martinsville one point behind Busch and one point below the cutoff.

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 21st Annual Hollywood Casino 400

Kansas Speedway

Kansas City, Kansas

Sunday, October 24, 2021

  1. (1)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  2. (5)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  3. (11)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.
  4. (13)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267.
  5. (6)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 267.
  6. (9)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.
  7. (7)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
  8. (10)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 267.
  9. (8)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 267.
  10. (14)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
  11. (25)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.
  12. (21)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 267.
  13. (24)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 267.
  14. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 267.
  15. (16)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 267.
  16. (18)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 266.
  17. (3)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 266.
  18. (22)  Cole Custer, Ford, 266.
  19. (19)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 266.
  20. (40)  Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 266.
  21. (32)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 265.
  22. (12)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 265.
  23. (15)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 265.
  24. (28)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 265.
  25. (23)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 263.
  26. (20)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 263.
  27. (31)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 263.
  28. (4)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 261.
  29. (17)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 260.
  30. (26)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 259.
  31. (36)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 258.
  32. (39)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 256.
  33. (30)  Josh Bilicki(i), Ford, 256.
  34. (38)  David Starr(i), Ford, 255.
  35. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 255.
  36. (34)  Ryan Ellis(i), Chevrolet, 254.
  37. (2)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, Accident, 224.
  38. (29)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Accident, 171.
  39. (33)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 165.
  40. (37)  Chad Finchum(i), Toyota, Handling, 47.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  130.728 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 3 Mins, 49 Secs. Margin of Victory:  3.619 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 33 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson (P) 1-14;B. Keselowski (P) 15-16;K. Larson (P) 17-24;M. DiBenedetto 25-27;K. Larson (P) 28;M. DiBenedetto 29;K. Larson (P) 30-32;C. Elliott (P) 33-34;W. Byron 35-36;K. Larson (P) 37-87;C. Elliott (P) 88-121;W. Byron 122;K. Busch 123;J. Logano (P) 124-145;W. Byron 146-163;K. Larson (P) 164-167;W. Byron 168-169;K. Larson (P) 170-172;T. Reddick 173-178;K. Larson (P) 179-185;W. Byron 186-219;K. Busch 220-222;C. Elliott (P) 223-228;K. Larson (P) 229-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson (P) 9 times for 130 laps; William Byron 5 times for 57 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 3 times for 42 laps; Joey Logano (P) 1 time for 22 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 6 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 4 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 4 laps; Brad Keselowski (P) 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,24,9,1,11,4,48,42,18,8

Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,9,5,1,4,8,48,11,23,42

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 24 2021
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