Kyle Larson wins Darlington Playoffs advancing to round of 12

Kyle Larson wins Darlington Playoffs advancing to round of 12

Kyle Larson won the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington and will advance on to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs.

Kyle Larson outdueled Tyler Reddick, who was making a strong push for the lead, to win the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and advance to the Round of 12 in the Playoffs.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, earned his third victory of the year and 22nd overall. But despite the victory, there were challenges he had to overcome, such as a collision with a wall and a gearbox that became briefly jammed.

Kyle Larson did not take the lead at the start of this race. He had to make his way through the field in the opening stage after starting P18. He has done it in some of his best performances this season, and he did it again today.

Larson’s maiden Southern 500 victory also marks his first victory at Darlington.

“This has been one of my favorite tracks my whole career, and I’ve been really, really fast here my whole career,” Larson said. “I just usually get in the wall.

“And finally we have the Next Gen car that’s tough enough to allow me to hit the wall. So I was able to make some mistakes and get a win. Adding this trophy to the collection is gonna be amazing.

“I messed up once and it (the transmission) got hung in neutral, and I slid and hit the wall, and I think bent the toe link a little bit, so it was kind of a struggle from there.

“Definitely had to fight it more than I was earlier, but we kept our heads in the game. That was really important.

“This race is all about keeping your head in it.”

Kyle Larson had a solid start to the season. With impressive performances in Richmond, Martinsville, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and other venues, he appeared to be the short track master. However, after he won the All-Star Race, the team’s dominance faded.

Reddick finished in second place after leading 90 laps on his 23XI Racing Toyota. He put in a valiant attempt towards the end of the race but just didn’t appear to have the speed or the air to overtake Larson to the finish line.

Although the #45 team scored good points, they were unable to secure the victory and will be left wondering what further they could have done.

Eight of the Playoff drivers finished in the top 10, led by Chris Buescher in third, followed by William Byron in fourth, Ross Chastain in fifth, Brad Keselowski in sixth, Bubba Wallace in seventh, and Ryan Blaney in ninth.

Chase Elliott and Erik Jones are the two non-playoff drivers in the top 10, coming in eighth and tenth, respectively. However, a few of the playoff drivers had underwhelming finishes.

Denny Hamlin started out strong, winning Stages 1 and 2 and leading 177 laps, but on Lap 274 he pitted under the green flag fearing he had a loose wheel.

This cost Hamlin a lap, and on lap 331 he was involved in a five-car crash that also involved Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell. As a result, Hamlin ended the race with one lap deficit.

Another unfortunate victim was Kevin Harvick. He was attempting to pit when Newman spun in Turn 4, bringing out a caution as he was making his way to pit road.

However, the red light turned on, closing pit road, and Harvick was given a penalty and dropped to the back of the pack for the restart, giving him a finish in 19th.

A loose wheel forced Martin Truex Jr. to make an impromptu pit stop in Stage 2, which cost him two laps and lost four positions following Stage 1 incident with the wall.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was found speeding on pit road and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty on his first green-flag pit stop.

After Darlington playoffs, Kyle Larson is currently trailing William Byron in the point standings by one point.

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs resume the next week on Sunday, September 10 at Kansas Speedway on USA, with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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