Texas NASCAR: Larson wins to secure final four playoffs place

Kyle Larson booked his place in the final four of the NASCAR Cup playoffs with victory at Texas, holding off Hendrick team-mate William Byron to the line.

Texas NASCAR: Larson wins to secure final four playoffs place

Larson had to hold off multiple contenders over six restarts in the final 60 laps - and just edged his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron by 0.459 seconds at the finish to earn his series-leading eighth win of the 2021 season.

After winning Stage 2, Larson continued to lead into the final part of the race, ahead of the flurry of caution periods that punctuated the final part of the race.

Chase Briscoe's burst tyre brought the lead runners into the pits, with Larson continuing to lead, and the driver of the #5 continued to bat away plays for the lead as Joey Logano's engine expired, Kurt Busch and Chris Buescher made contact, and Anthony Alfredo's car caught fire after a clash with Briscoe - which brought out a brief red flag.

Once the race resumed, Denny Hamlin sustained a tyre rub which eventually became flat, pitching him into a spin to bring out another caution period.

Martin Truex Jr's crash brought out the penultimate caution, before a battle between Briscoe, Buescher and Hamlin boiled over and produced the final yellow flag period - leaving Larson just needing to hold on for the final two laps to secure victory.

This win in the semi-final round of the playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway locks Larson into the Championship 4 at Phoenix, regardless of where he finishes in the next two races.

Larson, 28, has never previously had the opportunity to compete for the series title under NASCAR’s playoff format.

The win is the 14th of Larson’s career and first at Texas.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry, Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry, Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Photo by: Chris Graythen - Getty Images

“Yeah, this is unreal,” Larson said. “I knew we had a good shot to win today. Our car was amazing – that is probably the best 550hp package intermediate car we’ve had all year. Thanks to everyone at this No. 5 team.

“This is so cool. We get to race for a championship. This is crazy.”

Asked about hanging on during seven restarts in the final stage, Larson said, “I got good pushes from behind, really. Thankfully, I was just barely able to clear William every time into (Turn) 1 and not have to fight off of (Turn) 2.

“It was awesome. Hopefully, we can still get some more wins the rest of the year.”

Larson said despite being locked into the Championship, he does not intend to “lose focus” on winning at either Kansas or Martinsville.

“I love the West Coast. I love Phoenix,” he said. “We’ve always been fast there. I think we should have a good shot. Our team has been so strong. Might as well close it out now.”

Behind second-placed Byron, Christopher Bell ended up finishing third in the race - both drivers accompanying Larson in the top three having been knocked out of the playoffs in the previous round.

Brad Keselowski was fourth as Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five, ahead of Ryan Blaney.

Blaney's final-round playoff hopes have been boosted with his sixth-place finish, sitting 17 points ahead of Chase Elliott in the cut-off zone - who finished seventh.

Stage 1 winner Kyle Busch crossed the line in eighth, ahead of Tyler Reddick, as Daniel Suarez completed the top 10.

With races at Kansas and Martinsville remaining in the semi-final round, the four drivers in the playoff standings in danger of missing out at a chance to compete for the championship are Elliott, Keselowski, Truex and Logano.

NASCAR Cup Series Texas race results - 334 laps

Cla Driver Manufacturer Time Gap
1 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 3:42'54.478  
2 United States William Byron Chevrolet 3:42'54.937 0.459
3 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 3:42'54.994 0.516
4 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 3:42'55.034 0.556
5 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 3:42'55.107 0.629
6 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 3:42'55.267 0.789
7 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 3:42'55.369 0.891
8 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 3:42'55.809 1.331
9 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 3:42'55.814 1.336
10 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 3:42'55.915 1.437
11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 3:42'55.946 1.468
12 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 3:42'56.041 1.563
13 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 3:42'56.078 1.600
14 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 3:42'57.470 2.992
15 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 3:43'04.913 10.435
16 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 3:42'56.311 2 Laps
17 United States Michael McDowell Ford 3:42'56.574 2 Laps
18 United States Aric Almirola Ford 3:42'58.790 3 Laps
19 United States Cole Custer Ford 3:42'58.388 4 Laps
20 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 3:42'57.664 5 Laps
21 United States Chris Buescher Ford 3:35'28.728 7 Laps
22 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 3:43'00.796 10 Laps
23 United States David Starr Ford 3:42'59.086 11 Laps
24 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 3:41'57.448 13 Laps
25 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 3:27'42.691 14 Laps
26 United States Josh Bilicki Chevrolet 3:43'05.239 15 Laps
27 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 3:43'09.897 17 Laps
28 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 3:43'06.139 23 Laps
29 Anthony Alfredo Ford 3:09'59.434 35 Laps
30 United States Joey Logano Ford 3:02'03.933 36 Laps
31 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 44'17.757 275 Laps
32 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 33'00.239 296 Laps
33 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 30'58.531 298 Laps
34 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 20'03.420 303 Laps
35 United States Ryan Newman Ford 20'08.592 303 Laps
36 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 19'02.607 304 Laps
37 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 19'02.883 304 Laps
38 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 19'02.987 304 Laps
39 United States Joey Gase Ford 19'03.179 305 Laps

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