Kyle Larson Scores Solid Runner Up at Darlington

By all means, Kyle Larson snapped his tough streak quite nicely with a second place at Darlington. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By all means, Kyle Larson snapped his tough streak quite nicely with a second place at Darlington. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

All things considered, Kyle Larson snapped a tough, three race streak in style following Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Certainly, the 28-year-old Elk Grove, Calif. native endured forgettable races at Richmond, Talladega and Kansas.

Conversely, Kyle Larson quelled his subpar results with a strong performance and finish at Darlington. Notably, Larson, like many of his NASCAR Cup Series competitors, turned back the clock with a special throwback livery.

In this case, Larson’s firesuit and No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro resembled his first go-kart from his childhood. Indeed, the ninth year Cup racer dropped the hammer in this 293 lap Mother’s Day special solidly after starting 14th.

With this in mind, Larson steadily marched his way through the field in stage 1 with a fourth place result. However, Larson dropped to the back of the pack following a speeding penalty exiting pit road.

Nevertheless, the racer otherwise known as “Yung Money” carved his way back into the top 10 in stage 2. Whereas Larson’s competitors excelled on short green flag runs, the Californian thrived on long runs. Ultimately, Larson rebounded with a fifth place finish before preparing for the final stage.

Be that as it may, Martin Truex Jr, the 2016 Southern 500 winner, was in a different zip code. Nonetheless, Truex, who swept both stages on Sunday, would not have it so easy in the final 100 laps.

After all, Larson finally put a nearly flawless stage together. Passing by Kyle Busch for the second spot with 53 laps remaining, Larson pursued Truex for the top spot.

More importantly, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel with 37 laps left, undercutting Truex by a few laps. Notably, Larson trimmed Truex’s 4.5 second lead into car lengths in the final 30 laps.

Excuse me, pardon me. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Excuse me, pardon me. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Particularly, Truex and Larson worked their way around backmarkers and those running toward the tail end of the lead lap. As can be seen, Larson scooted by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Newman in rather daring fashion.

Consequently, Larson, determined and relentless, settled for a runner up result at Darlington while Truex won his third race in 2021. All in all, Larson saw the silver lining following a rather hot race at Darlington. In particular, Larson thrived especially after making 105 green flag passes, the seventh most in the race.

“We definitely needed to get a good finish,” Larson said. “I thought we were going to get one last week. And I messed that up. Three bad weeks in a row. To come back and contend for a win and finish second and get good stage points after speeding at the end of the first stage, it was a good day.”

Given these points, Larson praised his team and crew chief Cliff Daniels for their effort halfway in the regular season.

On the whole, Larson seems pleased with a great result at Darlington. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

On the whole, Larson seems pleased with a great result at Darlington. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

“I really enjoy working with Cliff and everybody on the 5 car,” Larson observed. “I think we’re just going to continue to grow. Our pit crew has been doing an awesome job. Everybody at the shop has been doing great.

“I just think I’ve got a great group of people around me throughout all of Hendrick Motorsports but especially on our 5 car. Their preparation is something that is pretty awesome to see. And I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work off the track, too, to get myself up to speed with no practice and things like that.”

By and large, Larson, advancing from ninth to sixth in the points standings, seems rather confident for next Sunday’s (May 16) race at Dover (2 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN).

“Yeah, I’m pumped to get there,” Larson noted. “I think it’s this aero package maybe, too. Yeah, Dover is just an awesome place, suits my style. We can move around quite a bit. It’s fast, aggressive, and I love it. I’m ready to get there. And hopefully, [I can] be one spot better.”

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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