Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Larson Swept Up in Late Atlanta Accident

Kyle Larson nearly had the complete effort at Atlanta until a crash on Lap 240 in Turn 3 ended his race day. (Photo: Joshua White | The Podium Finish)

HAMPTON, Ga. — For 219 laps, it looked like Kyle Larson was going to finally be in position for a strong result at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Instead, the 31-year-old Elk Grove, California, native’s day concluded like three of the prior four starts concluded — with a wrecked No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

A promising Sunday at the 1.54-mile quad oval started off kindly for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion after starting fifth. Larson led as early as Laps 11, 16, 21-22 and 24, able to take the fight with his distinct ride against the tenacious Ford Mustang Dark Horse entries of Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney.

Placing a respectable fourth in Stage 1, Larson persevered with handling issues and looked stout in Stage 2. Restarting outside the top 20, the 23-time Cup race winner methodically worked his way up inside the top five.

When other drivers complained about handling issues, Larson was smooth, steady and efficient. Preparing to challenge Austin Cindric for the lead and Stage 2 win, a Turn 2 accident involving Joey Logano, Chris Buescher and Denny Hamlin curtailed such prospects.

A runner-up result in Stage 2 bagged nine valuable stage points along with the seven from Stage 1, collecting 16 stage points, or “life insurance” as gamers may reference. Those points came into play in Stage 3.

It was the “Kyle and Kyle Show” early at Atlanta with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch shadowing each other. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

Patient and poised, Larson was inside the top 10 on Lap 220 when he was collected in a hard, Turn 4 crash involving Brad Keselowski and Corey LaJoie. Larson’s hood was buckled up while part of his left front fender was destroyed.

After being evaluated and released from the infield care center, Larson mused about the Turn 4 accident.

“Brad just got sideways. I don’t know if he got tight, got into clean air and just got sideways – but there wasn’t anything I could do from my seat,” Larson explained. “I just tried to check-up as much as I could. It was just a chain reaction and I kind of got pushed into the wreck. Just a bummer to end the race early again here at Atlanta.”

On this particular race day, Larson’s efforts were over after his best overall effort at the revamped Atlanta. Then again, he saw the positives from this recent race weekend, even using an adjective he rarely uses for drafting-style races.

“We had a really good No. 5 Chevy. I actually had a lot of fun today,” he said. “It was super intense and it’s been a great race. It’s been the opposite from last weekend with no fuel saving and guys going at it, so it’s been fun.”

Leading 17 laps on seven different occasions, Kyle Larson put himself in a position to win at Atlanta. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

Part of the fun came with the evolving track conditions. With nightfall descending at the Georgia track, Larson reflected on how drivers felt more confident to go wheel-to-wheel and make risky passes, even if it meant winding up on the hooker.

“Yeah, for sure. It seemed super intense from my seat,” Larson said. “Handling was getting a little bit better right now, so it was making passing a little bit more difficult again. But early in the race, the handling wasn’t great – runs would kind of checkup and there were gaps so you could get in, so a lot of people were really aggressive.

“Now, it’s cooling down so there’s a lot of grip and it’s a little easier for people to stay close to one another. It was just getting hard to pass, but still really aggressive.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series