Larson happy with late race pit call to get him track position for Vegas runner-up, details

Penalties were the story of the day on Sunday and Kyle Larson wasn’t immune to them. He was speeding on what was initially thought to be the final pit stop of the day. Still, at that time, he was a fifth place car. He didn’t have much for either Ross Chastain or Kyle Busch.

He’d charge from 18th back to the top 10 by the end but needed some help if he was going to get much further up. That help came via the Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace crash with three laps remaining in regulation.

That set up the fourth ever overtime finish in Vegas history. Larson, entered pit road seventh but only took two tires. He’d exit first.

So did two of his teammate as they came off pit road in tow. Busch and Chastain each took four tires and would restart fourth and fifth respectively. Could Larson have enough on two tires to hold them off?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

He did. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t hold off his teammate Alex Bowman as Larson crossed the finish line .178-seconds behind Bowman in the third closest finish in Vegas history. It was his fifth straight top 10 there including two of his last three being in the top two. Furthermore, he’s had five top three finishes in his last nine Vegas tries which his three career runner-ups tie him with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for most in track history.

“I was happy we made that call,” said Larson. “It’s kind of what I wanted to do and when I heard them say we were taking two tires, I was pleased by it. The grip was surprising. I had good grip there on two tires. I just got a little too focused on side-drafting him into (turn) three. Maybe if I could play it back again, I would try and just get a better arc and angle into three because when I got in there next to him, I just got really tight and had to lift out of the throttle.”

Larson though has a pair of top twos in-a-row and what’s scary about that is, he’s not looking as dominant now as he did last year but the results are better. He led 27 laps on Sunday and only 28 in his win last week. Imagine when the speed comes and it will.

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