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Kyle Larson Rallies from Late Race Spin, Finishes 3rd

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson led 144 laps and overcame a Lap 399 spin to finish third in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. — Kyle Larson’s path to a podium finish in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway was a tad spicy.

After all, with two laps left to the original 400-lap mark, Larson, who ran fourth, was spun by Bubba Wallace just past the start/finish line stripe. This resulted in the race’s fifth and final caution and the first Overtime restart of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Thanks to some adept driving to save the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 from crashing into the inside retaining wall, Larson fell from fourth to sixth.

Larson’s pit crew reeled off a fast pit stop to bring their driver from sixth to fourth on the final restart on Lap 406. Despite some paint trading with Martin Truex Jr., the dominant driver of Sunday night’s race, the 2021 Cup champion bested the Mayetta, New Jersey, native to the line for third place as Denny Hamlin won.

Even with the Overtime tussle with Truex, Larson considered the big picture that led to his wrap swapping duel for third place.

Kyle Larson

After contact with Bubba Wallace on Lap 399, Kyle Larson recovered from sixth to finish third in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

“I think he was just mad,” Larson said. “Like, he was mad that the 11 used him up on the restart. That’s probably where it really started from. Then the 22 got to his inside one and two. I got in behind the 22. He just turned left across my nose, had me up on the apron off of two.

“I don’t know if he thought I just piled it in there. Then he door-slammed me down the middle of the backstretch. I figured in [Turns] 3 and 4, I was going to use him up a little bit.”

Letting bygones be bygones, Larson hoped Truex understood the hard racing for a Richmond podium finish.

“I think he is more mad at Denny, but I was the closest one to take his anger out on,” he said. “I haven’t seen a replay either. I’m guessing the replay looks the way I kind of saw [Turns] 1 and 2, and then he’ll realize that and probably be all right.

“Martin is probably the most respected guy in the garage area. So I was surprised when he turned left on me down the backstretch after the checkered. It’s all good. I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings to me because I definitely don’t towards him. Like I said, I got a lot of respect for him.”

As frustrated as Larson was in the final laps prior to the Overtime restart, the Lap 399 spin, prompted by contact with Wallace, gave a new lease on life for the Elk Grove, California, native.

“Well, I was a little bit loose, then I got finished off there,” Larson recalled. “Thankfully, it all kind of just worked out. I only lost, whatever, a spot to Bubba, then to Byron there. I was able to keep it going. Then my pit crew did a really good job to get us off pit road, getting us to our sponsors, restart fourth and gain one more.

“I will take a third after what could have been a lot worse there on the frontstretch. Proud of the team, proud of Chevy, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. It was a good weekend for us, getting the pole, winning a stage, getting back to third at the end. Happy about that.”

Kyle Larson

The pole, a Stage 1 win and 51 points was not aa bad deal for Kyle Larson in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

Overall, Larson tallied 51 points from Sunday night’s race, the most of any driver entered in the 36-car field. Moving up to second in the championship standings heading into Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway, Larson enjoyed racing and winning Stage 1 in the damp conditions, a first for a points paying Cup race.

“It was fine,” Larson said. “I actually thought it was a lot of fun to race in the wetter condition cause you could kind of move your line a little bit. So, no, it was fun.”

The fun continues for Larson and his Hendrick Motorsports team as they celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary with ruby wraps at Martinsville. Larson, the defending spring race winner, expressed some optimism on contending for another grandfather clock.

“No, just hopefully, we have another good night like we did (Sunday night) and we can keep challenging up front and hopefully get a win,” he said.

Editor’s Notes

Jasmine Sharpe contributed to this article onsite at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia.

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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