Race Weekend Central

Kyle Larson Wins Kansas After Closest NASCAR Cup Series Finish In History

The old cliche is close races are won by a matter of inches. But Sunday night (May 5) at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Larson could literally say that.

Larson jumped to the outside line to beat Chris Buescher in a photo finish, prevailing by 0.001 seconds to emerge victorious in the Advent Health 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series.

The crazy ending was set up by a Kyle Busch spin that caused NASCAR Overtime. During the final round of stops, the first nine cars elected to take right side Goodyear tires only, with Martin Truex Jr. in 10th taking four. On the restart, the field raced two, three-wide and more for two laps, four cars emerging with a chance to win all the way to the finish line in what’s now the closest finish in NASCAR history.

No one could initially tell who won. NASCAR needed the photo finish camera that showed Larson just barely got his front bumper ahead of Buescher in the final seconds.

“That was wild. I was obviously thankful for that caution, we were dying pretty bad, and was happy to come out, you know, third and figured my best shot would be to choose bottom and just try and split three-wide to the inside,” Larson told FOX Sports. “It worked out, my car turned well and I was able to get some runs.”

“It was damn cool from my seat,” Larson added later to MRN.

The initial suspense while officials reviewed the call turned into a heartbreaker for Buescher, who some initially felt won the race. Instead, the victory fell through his fingers, in position on the last lap before Larson got momentum on the backstretch and pulled alongside.

“We really needed that,” Buescher told FOX after the event. “Needed a win more… gave [Larson] half a lane too much, I suppose.”

Larson completed a stunning recovery after taking a back seat to Truex and Hamlin racing for the win. However, that final caution changed everything; Truex wound up fourth after his four-tire stop shuffled him too far back while Hamlin couldn’t get momentum on the restart and slid to fifth.

“One more lap and we’d have looked like heroes,” Truex told MRN.

It wasn’t to be. Truex fell just short while Chase Elliott wound up third, slotting ahead of both the No. 19 Toyota and Hamlin. Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Noah Gragson and Michael McDowell rounded out the top-10 finishers.

It was an ending you’d expect from a race that was wild from the start. Stage one entertained with nearly nonstop side-by-side racing inside the top five. From the drop of the green flag, Ross Chastain and Larson passed pole sitter Bell to take the lead, then traded the top spot for almost the entirety of the first 80 laps. Coming to the end of the stage, Hamlin then charged through both of them to take the stage win, continuing momentum from last weekend’s win at Dover Motor Speedway.

Stage two was even more aggressive. Truex put the leaders four-wide while Buescher threaded the needle for a wild five-wide restart that gave the No. 17 Ford track position.

Buescher’s move would prove to be the stage winner, taking the lead following green flag pit stops and never relinquishing control.

But that’s when the race took a turn. Buescher suffered a penalty, his pit crew busted for a crewman over the wall too soon that left the race wide open entering the final stage.

As the race reset, the cautions started flying following a clean first two stages to start the event.

Jimmie Johnson was the first wreck and the hardest hit, checking up in the middle of the track entering turn 1. Corey LaJoie would slam into the rear of Johnson, spinning both Johnson and himself into the outside wall. Austin Hill then made contact with the left side of LaJoie’s No. 7 Chevrolet; however, only Johnson’s day would be over.

It was Johnson’s seventh straight finish outside the top 25 (38th) since returning to the Cup Series part-time in 2023.

On the next restart, the caution flag would once again fly following a multi-car wreck on the backstretch. Moving up the track to avoid contact with Bell and Joey Logano, Hamlin pinned Austin Cindric against the wall. Cindric attempted to keep the car moving straight, but lost control, collecting Bubba Wallace and McDowell.

Cindric would wind up retiring from the race.

The Team Penske driver wound up 37th.

On track, the next two restarts would once again bring out caution flags for two solo spins – Harrison Burton and Logano – before a long green-flag run that appeared ready to end the race.

It would have been a fantastic finish, indeed, without that Busch caution. Those two single-car incidents scrambled up pit strategies, leaving Buescher back in front, battling with Hamlin after staying out on older tires. Their track position held but fuel was becoming an issue, both men going at just 80% throttle to save some which allowed Truex and others to close in.

Kyle Busch’s spin made that ending a moot point. Instead, Kansas offered a different type of phenomenal finish in a series of historic ones the past few years.

AdventHealth 400 Unofficial Results

NASCAR Cup Series Standings After Kansas

Next Sunday (May 12), the NASCAR Cup Series now heads to the Lady in Black, Darlington Raceway, for the Goodyear 400. Television coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 while radio broadcasting will come from SiriusXM and MRN.

About the author

Contributor (Sunday News)

Ty joined the Frontstretch team in February of 2024 as a Contributor covering Sunday news. He is an avid NASCAR and NHL fan - go Blues! Outside of sports, Ty enjoys playing guitar and writing horror fiction. He has two novels available on Amazon: A Perfect Sundae and Chartreuse: Crime & Horror Short Stories.

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