Closest Finish in NASCAR Cup History Has Kyle Larson Taking the Win at Kansas Speedway

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Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS — May 5, 2024

Kansas Speedway is one of the newer tracks hosting NASCAR Cup Series events. Groundbreaking for Kansas Speedway was held on May 25, 1999. The official opening of Kansas Speedway was in 2001, with the first NASCAR Cup Series race being held on September 30, 2001. The first Kansas Cup event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Gordon would actually win the first two NASCAR Cup Series races held at Kansas Speedway (2001, 2002).

During the 2012 season, between the April and October events, the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway track underwent a repave, adding variable banking in the corners, bringing them to 17-20 degrees. The advancement has opened up racing lanes from the apron to the wall and has become a driver favorite.

“Kansas (Speedway) is a really fun racetrack,” said Martin Truex Jr. “It’s a place where you can move around. The tires wear out, and it gets slippery. It’s just a fun place to race, and we’re looking forward to it… At the same time, I think it’s a real measuring stick of your cars and where you’re at. It takes everything to get around there. You have to have horsepower and downforce, a good setup with a lot of tire grip, and things like that. It’s a big challenge, and usually the guys that have the fastest cars are up front there, so hopefully, we’ll be one of those guys because it seems like our car has been really strong this year.”

In total, there have been 36 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway: one event from 2001 – 2010 and two races per year since 2011. The 36 Cup Series races have produced 19 different pole winners and 19 different race winners (2001-2023).

Active Kansas Race Winners (10) Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin 4 2023, 2020, 2019, 2012
Joey Logano 3 2020, 2015, 2014
Jimmie Johnson 3 2015, 2011, 2008
Kyle Busch 2 2021, 2016
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2011
Martin Truex Jr 2 2017 sweep
Tyler Reddick 1 2023
Bubba Wallace 1 2022
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Chase Elliott 1 2018

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is the defending winner of this race, and 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, the organization Hamlin co-owns with NBA Legend Michael Jordan, won the Playoff race at Kansas last September.

Today’s Race

The AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway is scheduled for 267 laps (400.5 miles) and will be broken up into three Stages of 80/85/102 laps. Christopher Bell is on the pole, and Ross Chastain joins him on the front row. Denny Hamlin, last week’s winner, starts 14th, with Tyler Reddick sitting in the 15th position.

After a three-hour-plus weather delay, the Advent Health 400 finally took to Kansas Speedway just after 6 pm Eastern time.

Rain delayed the start of the Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway / NASCAR Photo

Stage One

Christopher Bell(20) and Ross Chastain(1) ran side-by-side for two laps, with Bell getting the nose of his car out front at the start-finish line. On lap three, Chastain took the top spot, moving to the top of the track. With the multiple racing lanes at Kansas Speedway, two and three-wide racing highlighted battles through the field.

Ten laps in, Kyle Larson(5) drove past Bell into the second position. Ty Gibbs(54) ran fourth, and Noah Gragson(10) held the fifth spot.

Green flag pitstops began for the leaders on lap 34. When service stops cycled through, it was Larson and Chastain out front swapping the lead. Gibbs, Chris Buescher(17), and Bell rounded out the top five. Larson finally prevailed in the lead battle.

With 20 laps to go in the Stage, a third player entered the mix. Denny Hamlin(11) passed Chastain for second. As the laps wound down, Hamlin got beside Larson. As they ran door-to-door, Chastain closed to make it a three-way fight for the lead.

Hamlin finally completed the pass, and Chastain drove past Larson, who had worn his tires out trying to maintain the top spot.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 10
2 1 Ross Chastain 9
3 5 Kyle Larson 8
4 20 Christopher Bell 7
5 17 Chris Buescher* 6
6 54 Ty Gibbs 5
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 4
8 8 Kyle Busch 3
9 10 Noah Gragson* 2
10 9 Chase Elliott 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Stage Two

Ross Chastain was first off the pit road, and Christopher Bell lined up next to him, just like the beginning of the race. Row two had Larson and Gibbs, with Martin Truex Jr.(19) and Buescher in row three. Denny Hamlin had a slow stop with trouble exiting his pit stall. He and Kyle Busch line up in row four.

And just like at the beginning of the race, Chastain and Bell ran side-by-side for a lap. The leaders spread out coming to the start/finish line and went five-wide for the lead to begin the next lap. Larson and Buescher came away running one-two.

Green flag pit stops began 37 laps into Stage Two, as tire wear is the motivating factor for pit stop timing. Larson’s crew had trouble getting the left front lug nut tight, costing valuable on-track positions.

Buescher became the new leader when all stops were completed. Gibbs, Busch, Truex, and Larson were the new top five.

Larson returned to the second position and trailed Buescher by less than a second with 10 laps to go in the Stage. Denny Hamlin made up for his pit stop trouble by moving into the third spot at the end of Stage Two. Buescher held on for his first Stage win of the season.

With the race going caution-free except for the Stage break, pit stops have been the biggest factor in scrambling the running order.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 17 Chris Buescher* 10
2 5 Kyle Larson 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 8 Kyle Busch 7
5 19 Martin Truex Jr. 6
6 54 Ty Gibbs 5
7 48 Alex Bowman 4
8 45 Tyler Reddick 3
9 1 Ross Chastain 2
10 10 Noah Gragson* 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

The Final Stage

Chris Buescher’s crew made a huge mistake on their pit stop. They were over the wall too soon, and the penalty sent Buescher to the rear of the field. Virtually eliminating him from contention for the win.

Out front, Larson, Busch, Truex, Gibbs, and Tyler Reddick(45) were the leaders.

The first caution for cause in the race came on lap 175 as Jimmie Johnson(84) and Corey LaJoie(7) got together in turn two. Daniel Hemric(31) and Riley Herbst(33) were also involved. Johnson was the only driver eliminated from the race with too much damage to continue.

The race restarted with 84 laps to go. Too early for pitstops to make it to the end.

Four-wide racing back in the pack saw Denny Hamlin forced high, where he made contact with Austin Cindric(2), who turned into the wall, and the crash was on. Michael McDowell(34) and Bubba Wallace(23) were the other cars caught up in the incident.

Cindric was unable to continue. Wallace and McDowell needed some repairs before rejoining the race.

Kyle Busch was the leader when the yellow flag was displayed. He and Larson will restart on the front row with 77 laps to go. The leaders sorted things out quickly. However, three and four-wide racing resumed back in the pack. Harrison Burton(21) lost control and spun out, flattening all four tires, which required a tow to the garage.

Still outside the window to complete the race, only 12 cars near the back of the pack chose to pit. Busch and Larson line up on the front row. Truex and Gibbs are in row two.

The longest green flag run of the Final Stage has been three laps. 70 laps remain when the green flag restarts the race. Joey Logano gets squeezed up mid-pack as they return to the flag stand and the caution waves again as Logano spins to the grass.

Those who pitted under the last yellow are going to cycle to the front as the remainder of the field will now stop for fuel and tires.

The new top ten coming to the green are Todd Gilliland(38), Hamlin, Justin Haley(51), Buescher, McDowell, Wallace, Chastain, Busch, LaJoie, and Gragson.

Hamlin and Buescher broke away from the pack at the front. Cautions have provided new life to Chris Buescher, and he took advantage of it, passing Hamlin for the lead. They swapped the lead running door-to-door, as Busch and Larson worked themselves back to the third and fourth positions.

Buescher continues to hound Hamlin. Larson passes Busch for third and starts closing on the two leaders. Treux moves up to take over the fifth position, and it’s anyone race with 30 laps to go.

With tires beginning to go away and crew chiefs talking about fuel being close, the finish could be exciting. With 20 to go the leaders remain in the same positions.

With 10 laps to go, Hamlin, Buescher, and Larson are saving fuel. Martin Truex Jr. has no need to save, and he moves into second, cutting the interval behind Hamlin to less than a second.

Kyle Busch spins with six laps to go, and the yellow is going to set up a short sprint to the finish. All the leaders pitted for two tires and gas. Truex takes four tires and drops to 11th.

The race runs into overtime with Hamlin, Buescher, Larson, Chase Elliott(9), and Ryan Blaney(12) as the top five.

Buescher gets the best jump and moves out front into turn one. He leads, taking the white flag. Larson closes on the back stretch with Elliott and Truex drawing up to the bumpers of the top two if they should falter.

Larson went high into turn four and got beside Buescher, forcing him down to the bottom of the track as they came to the line. They banged doors twice, and it was uncertain who got to the checkers first. The scoring pylon showed Buescher on the top, and his crew began to celebrate.

NASCAR examined the official video and determined Larson touched the finish line first. The margin of victory was 0.001, the closest in NASCAR history. Elliott and Truex went high to make it a four-wide photo finish. Elliott finished third, 0.060 behind the winner. Truex took fourth, 0.075 of a second back. All four eclipsed the previous closest margin of victory in Kansas Speedway history.

Kyle Larson touches the finish line first / NASCAR Photo

Hamlin, Bell, and Alex Bowman(48) finished fifth through seventh, all less than a second behind Larson.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 Denny Hamlin 411 In Win(3)
2 William Byron 362 In Win(3)
3 Kyle Larson 467 In Win(2)
4 Chase Elliott 412 In Win
5 Tyler Reddick 374 In Win
6 Christopher Bell 296 In Win
7 Daniel Suarez 250 In Win
8 Martin Truex Jr. 438 +155
9 Ryan Blaney* 367 +84
10 Ty Gibbs 338 +55
11 Alex Bowman 336 +53
12 Ross Chastain 331 +48
13 Chris Buescher* 316 +33
14 Kyle Busch 314 +31
15 Chase Briscoe* 290 +7
16 Brad Keselowski* 287 +4
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Bubba Wallace 283 -4
18 Joey Logano* 269 -18
19 Noah Gragson* 216 -61
20 Austin Cindric* 215 -72
21 John Hunter Nemechek 205 -82
22 Carson Hocevar 200 -87
23 Josh Berry* 196 -91
24 Todd Gilliland* 190 -97
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 186 -101

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Results of the Advent Health 400 from Kansas Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 5 Kyle Larson 268
2 17 Chris Buescher 0.001 268
3 9 Chase Elliott 0.060 268
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 0.075 268
5 11 Denny Hamlin 0.609 268
6 20 Christopher Bell 0.693 268
7 48 Alex Bowman 0.784 268
8 8 Kyle Busch 1.144 268
9 10 Noah Gragson 1.154 268
10 34 Michael McDowell 1.244 268
11 6 Brad Keselowski 1.258 268
12 12 Ryan Blaney 1.469 268
13 42 John Hunter Nemechek 1.503 268
14 38 Todd Gilliland 1.550 268
15 4 Josh Berry 1.654 268
16 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.885 268
17 23 Bubba Wallace 2.425 268
18 51 Justin Haley 2.629 268
19 1 Ross Chastain 2.786 268
20 45 Tyler Reddick 2.890 268
21 14 Chase Briscoe 3.227 268
22 43 Corey Heim 3.940 268
23 24 William Byron 3.978 268
24 77 Carson Hocevar 4.202 268
25 3 Austin Dillon 4.261 268
26 7 Corey LaJoie 6.266 268
27 99 Daniel Suarez 6.668 268
28 41 Ryan Preece 7.531 268
29 71 Zane Smith 7.624 268
30 31 Daniel Hemric 8.059 268
31 16 Derek Kraus 17.351 268
32 54 Ty Gibbs -1 267
33 33  Austin Hill -1 267
34 22 Joey Logano -2 266
35 15 Riley Herbst -2 266
36 21 Harrison Burton -6 262
37 2 Austin Cindric -84 184
38 84 Jimmie Johnson -93 175