Kyle Larson Continues Hendrick’s Dominance With Win In Richmondby Hunter Thomas April 2, 2023 1 comment
RICHMOND, Va. – William Byron was dominant on Sunday at Richmond Raceway, but it was his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kyle Larson earning his first victory of the season after holding off Josh Berry in the Toyota Owners 400.
Hendrick Motorsports has been strong early this season, and Sunday’s race in Richmond featured the organization’s same dominant performance. A caution due to Tyler Reddick spinning with 27 laps ago positioned Larson as the leader on a key restart. Larson had been fast all day, passing even Byron who led a race high of 117 laps; however, as the industry has seen lately, anything can happen on late-race restarts.
“We’ve been close to winning a couple,” Larson said. “William has been extremely good this year. It was going to be between probably him, the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.), us, and the 20 (Christopher Bell) was really good. So just things worked out. My pit crew had a great stop.”
The field took the green with just 20 laps to go. Larson led his teammate, Berry into Turn 1, but the caution came out before they field could make its way down the backstretch. Byron was turned by Bell as they battled for position late in the race. On the final restart of the day, Larson held off Berry and led the final laps en route to winning his first race since Homestead-Miami Speedway last October.
“What an awesome Hendrickcars.com Chevy,” Larson said. “Can’t say enough about it. I got into the 99 (Daniel Suarez) on pit road there sometime in the second stage, and we were awful after that. I was hoping the damage was the reason why, but they had to calm me down a little bit and get refocused and was able to get it done.
“Thanks to everyone on this team, Cliff Daniels, for everything he does to prepare the team to be as strong as we are without him on the box. So good to get a win, and hopefully many more.”
Thanks to a bold pit strategy and a clutch performance by his pit crew on pit road, Josh Berry held on to finish second, earning his best-career finish in the NASCAR Cup Series. Berry is piloting the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports while Chase Elliott recovers from an injury sustained in a snowboarding accident. Sunday’s race at Richmond marked only Berry’s fourth start in the series.
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.
“You know, 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.”
Ross Chastain, Kevin Harvick and Bell completed the top-five. Michael McDowell finished six, capturing Front Row Motorsports’ best finish of the season so far. Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Ty Gibbs and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10.
Bryon won Stage 1, and Denny Hamlin won Stage 2.
The Toyota Owners 400 says 22 lead changes among 11 drivers. Hendrick Motorsports led 228 of the 400 laps.
There were also eight cautions for 54 laps. Three of the cautions were for multicar accidents.
On Lap 46, Denny Hamlin spun JJ Yeley out entering Turn 1 to bring out the second caution of the day.
Ryan Blaney spun Berry out on Lap 95 as the two drivers exited Turn 4.
Byron spinning off the nose of Bell brought out the final caution of the afternoon on Lap 381.
Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. For the first time in the event’s history, the race will be run under the lights. Live coverage will be broadcast on FOX at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 9.
Photo Credit: Mitchell White/TheFourthTurn.com