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Kyle Larson Earns Workmanlike Runner-Up at Kansas

Kyle Larson nearly duplicated his 2021 autumn exploits with a second place finish at Kansas. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson nearly duplicated his 2021 autumn exploits with a second place finish at Kansas. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Given the ups and downs during Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway for Kyle Larson and his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy team, a runner-up result isn’t too shabby.

Certainly, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion was in position for his second win of the 2022 season. If anything, Larson and Kurt Busch put on a thrilling show for the fans at the 1.5-mile paved speedway.

After working his way to second, Larson appeared to have a faster car than Busch as both drivers rounded their way to turns 1 and 2. Larson attempted a daring slide job which nearly succeed.

However, the Elk Grove, California native found himself sideways off turn 2, somehow saving his loose car with nothing more than slight cosmetic damage to the right rear quarterpanel.

Larson battled with the Busch brothers at Kansas. (Photo: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

Larson battled with the Busch brothers at Kansas. (Photo: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

The two racers would wage in another spirited battle in the final 20 laps. This time, Larson was leading the way, managing a slender margin over Busch.

With seven laps to go, Larson was leading with a determined Busch running to his inside.

Heading into turns 1 and 2, both drivers ran side by side, unwilling to give each other any inch of real estate on the track. As Busch looked to pull off a slide job on last fall’s Kansas winner, the latter brushed the turn 2 wall.

Despite coming up short of another victory in the 267-lap race, Larson seemed content given the close calls with his edgy racecar.

“I mean, we were racing for the win there,” Larson observed. “He never got into me, so I’m trying to squeeze throttle to get position on him and just got tight.

“That was fun racing with Kurt (Busch). You know, the last half of the race I was trying hard the whole time. I about spun out in front of him there at some point in the third stage and then we just kept fighting through it.”

Without a doubt, Larson’s runner-up was his sixth top five and seventh top 10 of the year, a soothing statistic after an engine failure at Darlington Raceway.

All in all, Larson recognizes the hard work ahead for his No. 5 team but also acknowledged his satisfaction with his No. 5 Chevy Camaro ZL1.

Indeed, Larson worked hard in an action packed race at Kansas. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Indeed, Larson worked hard in an action packed race at Kansas. (Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

“Thanks to my team for building me a war machine,” he said. “I hit the wall a lot today and just struggled, like people could put air on me and get me really tight and I hit the wall. We’ll work on that and figure it out, but happy with my car.

“It was hard to hold off Kyle (Busch) and then I knew when Kurt got by, I knew it was going to be really hard to hold him off. I did my best but came up one spot short.”

Despite remaining ninth in the driver’s championship standings, the Golden State racer can look ahead to next Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ultimately, the defending race winner knows there’s nothing like a $1 million prize that can catalyze a season for a driver and team like that of Larson and the No. 5 brigade.

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 Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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