Larson wins Las Vegas  

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Kyle Larson driving No. 5 car in race. Photo courtesy of Zach Catanzareti Photo.

Kyle Larson took the first place finish at the South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to kick off the first race of the round of 8. Despite getting loose off of two and love tapping the outside wall with the right rear of his Chevrolet Camaro, the No. 5 car of Hendrick Motorsports pulled out a win, securing a spot in the Championship 4. 

Second place, occupied by the No. 20 Toyota Camry of Christopher Bell, started first on the grid for the race. Bell’s pace made Larson sweat a little in the last stretch of the race, but couldn’t pull through the win.

“[Bell has] always been a fair, clean racer,” Larson said in the post-race press conference. “He is one of the best racers in the world… It’s fun to battle with a guy like that.” 

“I don’t know what else I could’ve done,” Bell said in a post-race interview. “I feel like it was my moment to make the (Championship) four and didn’t quite capture it.”

Bell led for 61 laps and now finds himself fifth in playoff standings, one place short of the championship four. 

Stage 1 winner was Larson, who led for 63 laps, with Bell leading for 17. Bell radioed to his pit crew while leading the grid during the first stage, “You gotta tell me where he is.” Bell didn’t look in the rearview mirror because Larson was right on his tail during the entirety of Bell’s piloting of the cup race. Larson, who started outside the front row, passed Bell once on lap three and again on lap 40. 

A caution was admitted on Lap 66 due to an incident on the frontstretch with the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro of Erik Jones. While running 15th, Jones lost a tire, resulting in the emission of the first caution of the race.

Kyle Busch crossed the checkered line in third in his hometown with his No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro. Despite not being eligible for playoffs, Busch still ran an excellent race for his city.

Brad Keselowski has won in Vegas three times. Despite being knocked out of playoffs earlier this season, he still claimed fourth, adding another top-five finish to his history at the Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Alex Bowman crashed on lap 145. His No. 48’s right rear started “feeling funny” right before his right rear tire caved into its interior. Bowman had to retire his vehicle and settle with a 35th place finish in the South Point 400.

Coming out of the pit lane, Larson and Bell went head-to-head to secure the quickest pit stop and get out to claim the lead. Keselowski led for 37 laps before Larson overtook him and won out the stage.

Daniel Suarez has been having issues with his No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro all weekend; after Saturday’s practice, Suarez got loose off turn two and slid down into the inside wall, tearing up the car’s front end.

Chase Elliot started at the back of the grid for Sunday’s race alongside Suarez after having an incident in Saturday’s practice. Elliot’s tire had slid into the outside wall and caused damage to his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, and it wasn’t fixable before the qualifying round. 

The drivers above the elimination line and holding a spot in the Cup Series Championship are Larson, Bell, Martin Truex Jr., and William Byron. With this win in Vegas, Larson secures his place into the final round of playoffs, but the other three drivers still have two more races to defend their current standings.

The drivers head to Miami, Florida, next to compete in the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, for the second race in the Round of 8 on Oct. 22 at 11:30 a.m. 

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