NASCAR at Texas results: Kyle Larson wins playoff Cup race amid a flurry of cautions

·6 min read

NASCAR’s regular season champion will contend for a postseason championship. Kyle Larson will be one of four drivers racing for a trophy at Phoenix.

Larson won Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, the first race in the Round of 8, by overcoming multiple late-lap cautions as playoff drama unfolded around him.

William Byron finished second. Christopher Bell finished in third.

Stage 3

A caution-filled final stage at Texas included multiple playoff driver hits, flames and a red-flagged race.

Joey Logano suffered an engine issue with just over 30 laps remaining to force his early exit. After the race restarted, contact between Kyle Busch and Chris Buescher set off a spin further back in the pack. Anthony Alfredo checked up and went sliding into the outside wall. His car quickly became engulfed in flames after coming to a stop. Alfredo walked away from the wreckage, but the race was red-flagged for 15 minutes.

The field then ran three-wide once under green as playoff drivers Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin battled alongside Kevin Harvick for the spot, but Hamlin cut a tire after contact with Blaney, and went sliding down the track. He hit the nose of his No. 11 Toyota on the inside wall and was forced to make a long stop. The race restarted with 16 laps to go, but the challenges weren’t over for Joe Gibbs Racing drivers.

Martin Truex Jr. made slight contact with Daniel Suárez to hit the outside wall and destroy his No. 19 Toyota. He joined Logano as a playoff driver watching the end of the race from the sidelines. Hamlin was then hit in the final laps as Buescher spun into the inside wall hard. Hamlin nursed his car to an 11th place finish, while Larson held the lead through the final seven restarts and eventually through the checkered flag. Larson earned his eighth win of the 2021 season.

“I knew we’d have a good shot to win today and our car was amazing,” Larson said on NBC. “I mean, that’s probably the best 550 (horsepower) package, intermediate car we’ve had all year.”

He credited the pushes from behind with giving him the advantage on the restarts, and said that he stayed on the throttle to allow him to barely clear the cars around him going into Turn 1.

“Thanks to William (Byron), Tyler (Reddick), Brad Keselowski,” Larson said about the drivers who rotated on his bumper for the many late restarts. “Anybody who was ever behind me, especially Brad on that last restart. Just awesome to win and hope we can get some more wins throughout the rest of the year.”

Stage 2

Non-playoff drivers were a presence in the top five during the second stage, especially Byron and Harvick. Both drivers were eliminated from the postseason during the prior race at the Charlotte Roval, but they recovered with strong runs at Texas. Byron finished in second place while Harvick finished in fourth behind Blaney in third at the end of Stage 2.

The stage win belonged to Larson.

Larson, the Texas All-Star race winner, led 97 of the first 210 laps (257 laps of 334 total). JGR drivers Busch, Hamlin and Truex struggled to match the pace of the top-running Hendrick Motorsports cars of Larson and Byron.

Chase Elliott also wasn’t able to catch up with his teammates. He started the race at the back of the field due to multiple inspection failures and reported vibration during the second stage. He pit for his team to change a tire that was about to go down, but a caution flew shortly after as he was running a lap down. Elliott took the wave-around along with Logano. They finished Stage 2 in 12th and 15th, respectively, the lowest of the eight remaining playoff drivers. Elliott finished the race in seventh.

Stage 1

Texas looked like Talladega with the “Big One” coming around 30 laps into the first stage. Bubba Wallace took responsibility for the mid-pack wreck on the backstretch that involved 15 cars, the most cars collected in a single wreck at the Fort Worth track.

Kyle Busch was the only playoff driver of those involved in the accident, and his No. 18 Toyota suffered minimal damage. Busch was running mid-pack after NASCAR hit him with a penalty for speeding on pit road. Busch made a second stop at that point, and the team was able to stretch its fuel to the end of the stage while other leaders pitted. Busch won the first stage, but he was frustrated with his equipment through the later stages, comparing his car to a monster truck at one point. He finished in eighth.

After the latest race, Blaney (+17), Hamlin (+9) and Busch (+8) sit above the four-driver playoff cutline to advance to the finale along with Larson. Elliott (-8), Keselowski (-15), Truex (-22) and Logano (-43) are below the cutoff. Two races remain in the Round of 8, with the next race set for next Sunday (3 p.m. on NBCSN) at Kansas.

Final results

Pos.

Car

Driver

Time behind

Best time

Best speed

1

5

Kyle Larson (P)

--

28.954

186.503

2

24

William Byron

0.459

29.012

186.13

3

20

Christopher Bell

0.516

29.133

185.357

4

2

Brad Keselowski (P)

0.556

28.993

186.252

5

4

Kevin Harvick

0.629

29.045

185.918

6

12

Ryan Blaney (P)

0.789

28.983

186.316

7

9

Chase Elliott (P)

0.891

29.129

185.382

8

18

Kyle Busch (P)

1.331

29.102

185.554

9

8

Tyler Reddick

1.336

29.046

185.912

10

99

Daniel Suarez

1.437

29.211

184.862

11

11

Denny Hamlin (P)

1.468

29.15

185.249

12

43

Erik Jones

1.563

29.218

184.818

13

21

Matt DiBenedetto

1.6

29.285

184.395

14

3

Austin Dillon

2.992

29.186

185.02

15

14

Chase Briscoe #

10.435

29.157

185.204

16

1

Kurt Busch

-2

28.932

186.645

17

34

Michael McDowell

-2

29.336

184.074

18

10

Aric Almirola

-3

29.452

183.349

19

41

Cole Custer

-4

29.447

183.38

20

7

Corey LaJoie

-5

29.369

183.867

21

17

Chris Buescher

-7

29.209

184.875

22

78

BJ McLeod(i)

-10

29.878

180.735

23

66

* David Starr(i)

-11

30.139

179.17

24

15

Garrett Smithley(i)

-13

30.127

179.241

25

19

Martin Truex Jr. (P)

-14

29.222

184.792

26

52

Josh Bilicki(i)

-15

30.219

178.696

27

13

* Timmy Hill(i)

-17

30.976

174.329

28

42

Ross Chastain

-23

29.429

183.492

29

38

Anthony Alfredo #

-35

29.737

181.592

30

22

Joey Logano (P)

-36

29.189

185.001

31

0

Quin Houff

-275

30.441

177.392

32

23

Bubba Wallace

-296

29.482

183.163

33

48

Alex Bowman

-298

29.463

183.281

34

47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

-303

29.533

182.846

35

6

Ryan Newman

-303

29.478

183.187

36

37

* Ryan Preece

-304

29.677

181.959

37

77

Justin Haley(i)

-304

29.615

182.34

38

51

Cody Ware(i)

-304

29.8

181.208

39

53

Joey Gase(i)

-305

30.89

174.814

# DENOTES ROOKIE

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