Chevrolet’s Kyle Larson earned the first berth in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Four on Sunday with a win in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
With the win guaranteeing the 2021 champion a spot in the final round of the NASCAR Playoffs in three weeks at Phoenix Raceway, Larson ensures at least one Team Chevy driver will be represented as he seeks his second title in three seasons.
Team Chevy driver Kyle Larson celebrates after winning the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The Elk Grove, California, native was strong from the start in Sunday’s Round of Eight opener in Las Vegas. He qualified in the second position and grabbed the top spot in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 for the first time on the third lap. He went on to win both stages and the race after leading a race-high 133 circuits at the 1.5-mile track.
But while Larson’s stats look dominant, his Cliff Daniels-led team made constant adjustments to Larson’s ill-handling machine, while the driver himself made a brilliant save after his car got completely sideways and touched the wall while he was running second in Stage Two.
Throughout the day, pit strategy and execution kept Larson up front, and his pit crew vaulted him into the lead from the third position during the race’s final caution period. Larson was leading when the race resumed with 45 laps left and went on to take the victory with just a 0.082-second margin of victory.
The win was Larson’s fourth of the season and the 23rd of his career, all of which have come driving a Chevrolet.
Larson with his Hendrick Motorsports team in Las Vegas Motor Speedway Victory Lane.
“What a job done by my team,” Larson said of the day-long effort. “Just a great race car. I almost gave it away there in one and two; getting sideways, hitting the wall. Had to fight back there with our balance. They got it much closer there in the lead.”
The victory, Team Chevy’s 17th of the season, also puts Larson in an ideal position as he looks forward to racing for the title.
“Thanks to Chevrolet, HendrickCars.com, Valvoline, everybody involved in this deal,” Larson said. “This is really cool to get to race in the championship in a few weeks. Glad we don't need to stress in the last two races.”
Kyle Busch was among four Chevrolet drivers to score top-10 finishes in Las Vegas.
Chevrolet took three of the top-five finishing positions in Las Vegas, with Kyle Busch coming home third and Ross Chastain taking the fifth spot. Larson’s Hendrick teammate and fellow Playoff driver William Byron finished seventh to put four Chevy drivers in the top-10. Byron also won the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, giving Hendrick Motorsports a Sin City sweep in 2023.
Larson’s win was the 850th all-time for the Bowtie in Premier Series competition, further extending its lead among all other manufacturers.
Now, Larson has taken the first step toward giving Chevrolet its 34th Driver’s Championship as well.
Larson’s fourth win of the season and 23rd of his career propelled him to a spot in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Four.