The winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Kansas Speedway triumphed on an emotional day for his employer.
Kyle Larson drove to a 3.619-second victory in the Hollywood Casino 400, his third win in as many weeks. He won on a day of remembrance within Hendrick Motorsports. Sunday was the 17th anniversary of a plane crash outside Martinsville Speedway that killed 10 people, including Ricky Hendrick, the 24-year-old son of team owner Rick Hendrick; John Hendrick, Rick Hendrick’s brother; and John Hendrick’s twin daughters.
John Hendrick was HMS president. Ricky Hendrick was in line to succeed his father as leader of the organization.
“I didn’t ever get to meet Ricky or the other men and women who lost their lives that day, but I felt the importance of this race, no doubt,” Larson told NBCSN in his postrace interview.
Larson and his No. 5 team honored those who perished in the crash by pointing skyward and wearing their Victory Lane hats backward in a nod to how Ricky Hendrick wore his cap. Ricky Hendrick drove the 5 car during his racing career.
Below is more about Larson’s win Sunday, plus the complete results of the race:
Who won the NASCAR race yesterday?
Kyle Larson won for the ninth time in the Cup Series in 2021 and for the third time in a row in the playoffs. He has won each of the first two races in the Round of 8, which makes the round’s finale next weekend at Martinsville even more dramatic as the other playoff drivers compete to fill the three open spots in the Championship 4 field.
Larson’s Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott came home a distant second, completing the seventh 1-2 Hendrick finish of the season. Elliott couldn’t gain on Larson after brushing the wall late in the race.
“Felt like we had something for Kyle there; just got the wall there off of (Turn) 2,” Elliott told NBCSN after the race. “So hard to get to up to him when you’re running the fence like that. Every few feet you get closer, the harder it gets.”
MORE: Roundup of Elliott vs. Harvick feud
Elliott, like Larson, understood the day’s significance within the Hendrick organization.
“Obviously this is a day that nobody’s going to ever forget,” Elliott said. “Thinking about Mr. Hendrick and all of the families that were affected 17 years ago today. Just proud to be part of their family and hope we can make them proud these next two weeks.”
Elliott’s runner-up finish pushed him into second place in the points standings with one race remaining in the Round of 8.
NASCAR Cup playoff standings
Kyle Larson is the only driver to have qualified for the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. The final three spots will be decided by a 500-lap (or more) shootout at Martinsville Speedway on Halloween. The standings after Kansas favor Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin ahead of that race.
Elliott moved from fifth to second in the standings with his runner-up finish Sunday. Hamlin stayed in third, just two points behind Elliott, after coming home fifth.
The big loser Sunday was Ryan Blaney. The Team Penske driver dropped from second to fifth because of a wreck with 44 laps to go. Austin Dillon’s car got loose and made contact with Blaney’s car. Blaney’s machine slid up the track and into the outside wall. The damage from the wreck forced Blaney out of the race and into a 37th-place finish.
“We got run into from two lanes below me,”’ Blaney told NBCSN after the race.
Kyle Busch finished 28th after hitting the wall twice, but he ended the day still fourth in the standings, a point ahead of Blaney.
|6||Martin Truex Jr.||4071|
x-Clinched spot in Championship 4.
MORE: NASCAR playoffs, explained
NASCAR results from Kansas
Hendrick Motorsports ruled the day with another 1-2 finish, Kyle Larson over Chase Elliott. Non-playoff drivers Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were third and fourth, respectively, and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.
Up next for the Cup Series is the final race in the Round of 8, the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway (2 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, MRN). After that will come the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7.
|7||P-Martin Truex Jr.|
|24||Ricky Stenhosue Jr.|