Larson Conquers Richmond in Overtime

Kyle Larson

"I’m really pumped for the playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Kyle Larson took advantage of a great pit stop and overtime restart to win Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.

Larson was ahead of the field in the overtime when Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. made contact. Truex Jr. slammed the first turn wall and caution flew to officially end the race with Larson declared the winner.
 
It was his fourth win of the season and first on a track less than two-miles.
 
“The No. 78 (Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start,” Larson said. “I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”
 
Larson led three times for 53 laps, including the final five.
 
Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five.
 
Hamlin, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott completed the first 10 finishers.
 
The race was the last of the regular season and three drivers secured the last trio of playoff berths; Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray.
 
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin next Sunday with the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
 
How Larson Won: Timing was everything for Larson who was in the right place at the right time. Truex Jr. was leading when caution was called after Derrike Cope brushed the wall. That turned the whole race’s complexion around and on the ensuing restart, Larson got ahead of Truex Jr. at the drop of the green flag. He was at the point when Hamlin got into Truex Jr. who then went into the wall, bring out the caution again to end the race with Larson the winner.
 
Who Had a Good Day:
Kenseth was involved in a bizarre incident early in the race when an ambulance was at the head of pit road under caution, which caused an accordion effect as cars swerved and braked. Kenseth received damage and was knocked out the race but he was still able to get into the playoffs…Elliott and McMurray also came into the night inside the playoff cut-line and were able to leave Richmond with a shot to run for the championship…Newman had his fourth straight top-10 finish this season his best streak since 2015…Kurt Busch scored his third straight top-five finish his best streak since summer of 2015
 
Who Had a Bad Day: Despite finishing second, Logano missed the playoffs with his encumbered Richmond win in April ultimately keeping him from running for a title.
 
What Else Happened: The early portions of the race were rather calm with Kyle Busch and Truex Jr. winning stages. It looked as if Truex Jr. was going to cruise to victory even after a flurry of pit stops by drivers trying to jumble things up with strategy. But once things cycled back, Truex Jr. was back in front. That is until the late caution and overtime that sent Larson to Victory Lane in the aftermath.
 
Quotable: “They tell me I'm a hero around here but today I was a clown," Hamlin on his night.
 
Notable: Hamlin finished in the top five in nine of the last 12 races this season…Jones scored his sixth straight top 10 finish, first at Richmond in his second start….Johnson ended a streak of six straight finishes without a top 10, it was tied for the worst streak of his career.

 

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