Larson Wins Regular Season Finale At Richmond

Jacob Seelman Cup, Featured 0 Comments

Kyle Larson celebrates with a burnout after winning Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – A “perfect” pit stop and a brilliant final restart allowed Kyle Larson to blow past regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. in overtime Saturday night at Richmond Raceway, winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 in a thrilling finish.

Truex led a race-high 198 laps and appeared to be on his way to his fifth win of the year, but a caution coming to three laps to go in regulation – after Derrike Cope hit the wall in turn four – sent the field to pit road and paved the way for a crazy finish.

Larson’s pit crew gave him a 10.6-second pit stop, and the California young gun used it to full advantage as he beat Truex off pit road and became the control car for the final restart of the night.

When the green flag flew, it was the No. 42 Target Chevrolet that shot out like a cannon from the bottom groove, pulling out to a big lead as Erik Jones missed a shift from third on the inside and sent the field scrambling behind the race leader.

Truex got away from that hornet’s nest and tried to chase Larson down coming to the white flag, but was tipped by third-running Denny Hamlin entering turn one on the final lap, slamming the outside wall hard and forcing a caution flag that officially ended the race.

That incident was of no consequence to Larson, as he scored his fifth-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, fourth of the season and first on a non-two-mile oval.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew, and man, that showed tonight,” said Larson. “I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long and gained us a bunch of spots. This win is all because of them.”

Though Larson acknowledged his car wasn’t the fastest on-track for much of the night, he dug deep and found a way to the top rung on the ladder, just like he did at Michigan in August when he beat Truex on a late-race restart.

“The No. 78 (Truex) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second-best for most of the runs,” Larson admitted. “It just came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex) into (turn) one and I was pretty excited about that. I’m really pumped for the playoffs now. We’ve got a great shot at the championship. I’m looking forward to it.”

Larson’s win came in a race that was extended to 404 laps due to overtime.

Though Truex was unable to reach the checkered flag under power, he was still officially presented with the championship trophy for winning the regular season title on Saturday night and will enter the playoffs with a 20-point lead over Kyle Busch.

“This is definitely what we set out to get (at the start of the year),” said Truex. “We hoped to get a few more wins along the way, but it’s still a good feeling. It’s a little hard to be too excited right now, but I’m really proud of everyone on this Furniture Row team and the position they’ve put me in. Hopefully we can keep it going for 10 more (races).”

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