Kyle Larson Continues Momentum In NASCAR Playoffs With Win At Bristolby Hunter Thomas September 19, 2021 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kyle Larson continued his incredible season on Saturday as he capped off the Round of 16 with a victory in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet kicked off the NASCAR Playoffs with a runner-up finish to Denny Hamlin at Darlington Raceway. He led a race high of 156 during the Cook Out Southern 500, but he just came up one position short of a win. In Richmond, he captured a solid sixth-place finish after starting from the pole. On Saturday night at Bristol however, he led a race high of 175 laps, and he went head-to-head with fellow Playoff competitor, Kevin Harvick and proved that he is certainly going to continue to be a threat to this year’s title.
“Yeah, it was a good race from start to finish for us,” Larson said. “Our car was really fast. Really loose for five laps, then it would get good, then loose again, then good again, then would be pretty good at the end of the run.
“The next-to-last run we had there, the long one, I was really good. Thought I was going to be good there again in the last run but I didn’t have the front turn that I needed. Just tried staying patient with everything, tried not to overheat my tires, abuse them, just give myself a shot.”
In the closing laps of Saturday’s race, Harvick led the way, but a disagreement on the track had him battling Chase Elliott, who was not on the lead lap. The two drivers made contact with each other earlier in the race, and Elliott, who was very upset, raced Harvick as hard as possible without wrecking him. Conveniently enough, Elliott’s teammate, Larson, made ground on Harvick and passed him for the lead with four laps to go. Harvick attempted one last ditch effort to get the lead by running into the back of Larson, but the effort didn’t work. Larson kept Harvick, who is winless this season, at bay en route to winning his sixth race of the season.
“I started to get some dive-ins working off of (Turn) Two, got a big run, decided to pull the trigger, slide him, squeeze him a little bit,” Larson said about the race-winning move on Harvick. “Then he had me jacked up down the frontstretch. It was wild.”
Larson has now finished inside of the top-five on 16 occasions this season. He has even finished inside of the top-10 in 72.4% of the races. In fact, Larson, who has 13 stage wins, has a 30-point lead over Martin Truex Jr. who is second in the standings. With the exception of stage points that are available each race, Larson already has a race lead worth of points on Alex Bowman who sits seventh in the standings.
With that being said, there a high chance that Larson will advance to the Round 8; however, Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL could significantly shake up the standings. In fact, that is nearly a guarantee. It will be interesting to see if Larson can keep the momentum rolling through the heart of the NASCAR Playoff schedule.
The Round of 12 of the NASCAR Playoffs will kickoff on Sunday, September 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the South Point 400 will broadcast live on NBCSN and PRN at 7 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Ted Seminara