Kyle Larson Makes a Comeback with 20th Career Win
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Kyle Larson took a nostalgic trip, revisiting videos of his triumphant 10-win season in 2021, as he stated, "to remind myself that I used to be good."
Larson Dominates at Richmond Raceway
Larson skillfully seized the lead on a restart with a mere 14 laps remaining, ultimately securing an effortless victory at the NASCAR Cup Series race held at Richmond Raceway on Sunday.
"I just really wanted to look at old tape of myself and see where my mindset was and to see my confidence," Larson reflected upon his 20th career win in NASCAR's premier series. During the final green flag run, Larson outpaced Hendrick Motorsports teammate Josh Berry, who was substituting for the injured Chase Elliott, and clinched the lead in the first turn.
Berry tenaciously secured second place, followed by Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and Kevin Harvick. The triumphant outcome marked the third win of the season for the four-car Hendrick team, occurring shortly after a 100-point penalty against each driver for using an illegal part was overturned by a NASCAR appeals panel.
The race also featured a stand-in crew chief, Kevin Meendering, as the panel upheld the four-race suspensions of all four team crew chiefs. "I was just happy to fill a gap and help those guys out in a tough situation," Meendering commented. "This is a testament to all the hard work but those guys on that team and to Hendrick Motorsports." Chevrolet dominated the top three spots, claiming victory in five of the seven races this season.
Apart from Berry, all Hendrick cars vied for the lead throughout the race, with William Byron, the season's only two-time winner, leading for a staggering 117 laps and ranking fourth for a restart with 21 laps remaining.
Unfortunately, as the field congested into Turn 1, Bell collided with Byron's left rear quarter panel, causing him to spin into the wall and ultimately finish in 24th place. "It looked like the 1 [Chastain] was inside the 20 [Bell] and the 20 overcooked the corner, had the fronts locked up and nailed us in the left rear," Byron lamented. "It is what it is.
I had a great race car." Bell explained his attempt to stave off Chastain: "I tried to protect from him going to the inside and he still made it three-wide there at the last minute and there wasn't enough room," he said.
"Everybody on the team made some great calls," Berry praised. "I'm so glad they tried something different there at the end to just get us up front." McDowell converted the opportunity into a sixth-place finish, while Todd Gilliland, the third driver who remained on track, achieved a 15th-place finish.
"Our car was really good on the long run and I think we were gonna be 15th or 16th, so you might as well go for it and see if you can't come up with something good and it worked out," McDowell concluded.