Entering Sunday (Oct. 23), Kyle Larson led 330 laps in his eight trips to Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the Dixie Vodka 400, he led 199 of the 267 laps, swept both stages and picked up his third victory of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. It’s Larson’s 19th career Cup win and the first of his career at the 1.5-mile track in Homestead, Fla.
“Definitely the best run we’ve had all year long,” Larson told NBC after climbing victoriously out of his No. 5 Chevrolet. “We’ve been capable of it I feel like many weekends. We just haven’t quite put it altogether so Cliff [Daniels, his crew chief] gave a great speech this morning. [He] got us all ready and focused. I did my best to keep it out of the wall. I got in the wall a few times but I could still make speed. Amazing racecar; I knew that the last run was going to be short enough that I was going to be in some sort of trouble there but thankfully AJ (Allmendinger) and Ross (Chastain) were racing hard behind me.
“We get to race for an owners’ title in Phoenix in a couple of weeks so we’re still not technically out of it. I know I cannot win the championship but it means more to me to win it as a team so we’re going to go to Phoenix to try to get another championship.”
Larson was eliminated from the playoffs after the Round of 12, so he cannot win the drivers’ championship. His victory still was sweet though.
“What a fun day,” he continued. “I’ve always wanted to win a race here. At the end of the day, we got to rip the wall at Homestead; we finally have a car tough enough for me to run the wall and finish the race. A lot of fun today; hope you fans enjoyed the ass-kicking there. I hope we can do it again in a couple of weeks.”
Larson was the best of the 36-car field, but he was involved in a scary moment with Martin Truex Jr. when Larson spun Truex on pit road during the last caution flag period.
Martin Truex Jr. SPINS entering pit road!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 23, 2022
“I was just going behind him and he hung a hard left and was hard on the brakes at the same time and I ran right into the back of him,” Larson said. “My team said he was late turning into his stall. I don’t know; if it was my fault, I’m sorry. I don’t think it was. It’s hard to see on this pit road. I don’t know if fans or people realize when you got debris all over your windshield, the sun’s shining straight in your face, it’s hard to see your stall. So hate that it happened. He was definitely the one that I was going to have to beat. He was really good [during] that last long run too.”
Truex appeared in line to possibly score his first victory of the season before a pit road incident between him and Larson cost him many spots on the restart. Truex drove his No. 19 back up to a sixth-place finish.
“It was definitely a little bit of both of that,” Truex told NBC post-race. “It was really hard to see through these windshields with the sun like that and all the stuff covering it. I did see my box late for sure. So I slowed down before I turned out of the way of the No. 5 there. So obviously partly on me. I didn’t expect to get turned around. I’m glad nobody got hurt there. But overall, it’s just disappointing. To have a good day going like that and to have a shot at winning and couldn’t close the deal. I hate it for my team. Just been one of those years.”
Of the other playoff drivers, Christopher Bell and polesitter William Byron finished 11th and 12th, respectively. Ryan Blaney ended up 17th after running inside the top five earlier in the race, while Joey Logano finished 18th and Chase Briscoe finished last (36th).
Blaney and Briscoe were the two playoff drivers to encounter trouble in the race.
During the final stage, Blaney spun his No. 12 after his Team Penske team pitted him.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 23, 2022
Briscoe meanwhile suffered a far worse outcome. He crashed his No. 14 shortly before the end of stage two.
BRISCOE MAKES HARD CONTACT WITH THE WALL!
The No. 14 is likely done for the day after getting loose in Turn 1 & 2 breaking the control arm.
— NASCAR on TSN (@NASCARonTSN) October 23, 2022
His lack of stage points combined with his last-place finish left him in a must-win situation in order to advance to the Championship 4.
Stage points played a big difference as only Logano has advanced to the Championship 4 via his win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Briscoe 0 OUT
— Tom Bowles (@NASCARBowles) October 23, 2022
With only one race left in the Round of 8, Chastain, Elliott and Byron are the other three drivers currently above the Round of 8 cut line. Chastain has a 19-point advantage, Elliott has 11 and Byron has five over Hamlin, who is the first driver below it. Blaney is -18, Bell is -33 and Briscoe is -44.
As a result of Larson’s victory, no other playoff drivers clinched a Championship 4 berth. Seven drivers will compete for the final three spots in the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. The short track will host the Cup field in the Xfinity 500 on Sunday (Oct. 30) at 3 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by NBC.
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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