Larson, team came close to taming Darlington 

2023 Kyle Larson Hendrick Cars Darlington.jpg
TRACK: Darlington Raceway
LENGTH: 1.33-mile oval

DATE: May 14, 2023
STANDINGS: 10th (-66 points)

Kyle Larson rolled off seventh for the start of Sunday’s 400.2-mile race at Darlington Raceway. The newly announced No. 5 driver named on NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list quickly defended a spot up front. Larson, who won the Xfinity Series race on Saturday driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing, raced around the 10th-place position until a caution occurred on lap 38 for fluid on the track. Under the yellow, the Elk Grove, California, native visited pit road for four tires, fuel and small air pressure adjustments- but an incident on pit road caused him to choose 23rd for the restart with 47 laps to go in the stage. In the second half of the stage, Larson maneuvered his way forward through the pack, gaining 11 positions during the run for a 12th-place finish in stage one.

During the stage break, a quick stop for four tires and fuel from the pit crew allowed Larson to gain four positions on pit road. The 30-year-old driver chose eighth for the lap 99 stage two restart. Larson maintained the eighth position for over 35 laps, before pitting again for four tires and fuel. Following the completion of the green-flag pit cycle, the No. 5 driver claimed the fifth position. For the remainder of the second stage, Larson raced patiently, slowly gaining on the cars ahead of him before ultimately scoring a third-place finish in the second stage.

During the stage break, another speedy pit stop from the No. 5 pit crew gained Larson two positions on pit road, permitting him to lead the field to green for the final stage. Following the restart, the driver settled into the third position before a caution occurred with 83 laps to go. Larson pitted for four tires and fuel, choosing fourth for the restart. During the green-flag pit cycle, Larson pit on lap 247 for four tires and fuel. He then raced from the runner-up position, only behind Denny Hamlin, who had not pit that cycle yet. When Hamlin pit, Larson took over the lead. Only 13 laps later, a caution occurred. Under the yellow flag, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel, leading the field back to green from the inside with 13 laps to go. Another caution immediately followed the restart and Larson stayed out when pit road opened.

At the restart, Larson led from the outside of the front row, with Ross Chastain on the inside. Chastain and Larson collided battling for the lead, putting the No. 5 driver in the wall. In overtime, the team scored a 20th-place finish at “The Lady in Black.”

Larson and the No. 5 Chevrolet will put everything on the line when they compete in the annual All-Star Race next Sunday, May 21 at the revived North Wilkesboro Speedway. The race for a $1 million pay day begins at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

Categories: Racing