DARLINGTON, S.C.- Hendrick Motorsports made a big statement Sunday at Darlington, with Kyle Larson winning and William Byron in fourth.
Larson’s first Southern 500 win is Hendrick Motorsports’ 299th Cup Series victory. He also tied Terry Labonte on the all-time Cup wins list, at 22 wins.
The triumph comes a week after teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman missed the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Larson’s title run will continue into the Round of 12. The No. 5 team is continuing to be a top four team week in and week out, even with a fair share of hiccups along the way.
Larson, who also won the All-Star race in this season, is up to three wins in points races. The No.5 car has 11 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.
The 2021 champ now has the fourth-most playoff points (22) and is proving himself a major threat for the 2023 title.
Kyle Larson may have to go through teammate William Byron who put up a valiant effort Sunday.
He started 23rd and didn’t get stage points in stage one. Then, he placed fifth in stage two and earned six bonus points.
After Reddick tried tirelessly to overcome dirty air and pass Larson for the lead – and Chris Buescher struggled to pass Reddick for the same reason – Byron came into the fold.
While he didn’t have enough to pass both of them and get to Larson, Byron earned a 4th-place finish after a poor start.
Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. finished 18th after starting 31st.
While Truex and Byron are still tied for the most playoff points (36), Byron made the bigger statement at Darlington. After five finishes worse than 14th after his win Atlanta, the No. 24 team has a win and finishes of eighth and fourth. They’re here to play.
Despite missing the driver playoffs, Chase Elliott still has a stake in the owner playoffs. The No. 9 team made those playoffs and now sits 11th after Darlington.
Elliott started 13th and placed seventh in the first stage. He hung around the top-10 much of the race, not making much noise but finishing eighth.
The 2020 champion now has three top-10 finishes in the last four races.
Out of the playoff conversation totally is Alex Bowman who turned his race around late in the going at Darlington.
That is, until 48 to go, when Bowman tangled with Daniel Suarez after an aggressive block on the frontstretch. The wreck also collected Harrison Burton and took all three drivers out of the race.
At COTA, Suarez tracked down Bowman after the race and rammed into the back of the No. 48 car coming onto pit road. NASCAR then fined Suarez for that.
The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Kansas next Sunday for the Hollywood Casino 400. The green flag set to drop just after 3 P.M. EST.