Larson wins Toyota Owners 400 Cup race at Richmond

Larson wins Toyota Owners 400 Cup race at Richmond

Kyle Larson won the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday at Richmond Raceway thanks to a quick final pit stop that allowed him to take the lead with his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and hold off the rest of the grid for the final 25 laps.

The Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday at Richmond Raceway, according to Kyle Larson, was more than just him capturing his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2023 and his 20th career victory.

It was a great day for Hendrick as all four of its drivers dominated as lap frontrunners, with William Byron leading the most of the 117 racers, including the Stage #1 victory, albeit a crash involving Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain with 20 laps to go eliminated him from the race.

Just before the incident, Larson passed Byron for the lead, and on the restart that followed, with Berry following, he took the lead again. The Fourth team driver Alex Bowman started on the front row and came in seventh.

The 1-2 Hendrick Motorsports finish occurred on what would have been the team owner’s late son Ricky’s 43rd birthday, giving Rick Hendrick another reason to celebrate the day as Larson led Josh Berry to the finish line.

Ricky Hendrick competed in what are now known as the Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series races in the early 2000s. Later, he moved into an executive position with Hendrick Motorsports and assisted in managing the organization until his death in a plane crash in 2004.

Larson has primarily used a blue/white livery that is modeled on the junior Hendrick’s car from his driving days since joining HMS in 2021.

Larson’s pit team completed stops quickly enough for him to have privileged lane selection on restarts, which aided in extending his lead. On Sunday, Tyler Monn, his spotter, and Brandon Johnson, his jackman, all happened to have birthdays.

Berry’s second-place finish in only his fourth start for the squad as Chase Elliott’s replacement was outstanding despite the fact that it was a finish that did not result in a victory.

As the 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national champion, his third-place finish in the Xfinity race on Saturday at Richmond was further confirmation of his experience in short track racing. He had been spun by Ryan Blaney on lap 96, but he was able to recover, making his performance all the more spectacular.

“When we got some clean track, we weren’t running bad lap times,” Berry said. “I’m so glad they tried something different to get us there at the end.”

“Felt like we were decent the whole time. Just getting in cleaner air. We were free to run with Kyle. Man, what a huge day.”

“To come here and start in the back, no practice, qualifying, get spun out, work through the field like that, just second place, it’s pretty cool.”

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

Sixth place was Michael McDowell’s best finish of the year. Joey Logano, the current series champion, came in seventh, ahead of pole-sitter Alex Bowman, rookie Ty Gibbs, and owner-driver Brad Keselowski. Gibbs’ ninth-place finish was his third straight appearance in the top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin both led fifty-six and seventy-one laps, but neither finished in the top ten. The latter’s race was tarnished by accidentally turning J.J. Yeley for the first race-related caution of the day, while the former’s campaign was plagued by a late tyre miscommunication.

Hamlin was already facing criticism as a result of his admission that he purposefully pushed Chastain into the wall at Phoenix, for which he was penalized with twenty-five points; his appeal of the penalty will take place on Thursday.

Paradoxically, Hendrick’s victory occurs a few days after their drivers’ 100 points were reinstated as a result of a successful appeal of a penalty, a decision that Hamlin criticized.

After striking the wall on lap 303, Noah Gragson was the only contender to retire. Every Richmond Cup event in the 2020s saw just one car pull out, with the exception of the two races in 2022 that saw two cars out.

The Food City Dirt Race at Bristol (Tennessee) Motor Speedway is the series’ upcoming Sunday’s event (7 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Leave a Reply