Sunday’s Advent Health 400 at the Kansas Speedway continued a trend that has been working against Kyle Larson for the past several weeks. On a regular basis the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has been among the fastest cars on the track, if not the fastest, only to have something go wrong to take away a chance at victory leaving nothing but frustration.
Larson spun while racing for the lead early in Sunday’s contest at Kansas following contact with Tyler Reddick. The combination of a fast car and outstanding pit stops eventually lifted the No. 5 machine back to the top of the heap just after the halfway point. As the race wore on, it began to look like the Elk Grove, California native was on his way to his third victory of the 2023 season.
However, after leading 46 consecutive laps, contact from eventual race winner Denny Hamlin on the white flag lap sent Larson into the backstretch wall forcing him to merely limp around the track to claim a second-place finish. At least this time he still earned a good finish whereas his other more recent unlucky mishaps have resulted in disastrous results.
Over the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races, Larson has claimed two wins(Richmond & Martinsville) but has also been relegated to finishes of 31st or worse on four separate occasions. In each of those events in which he finished well back in the field, ‘Yung Money’ was very much in contention to win. So, in theory at least, his win total could be higher than two.
At Atlanta, the No. 5 Chevy was running second with just over 50 laps remaining when leader Aric Almirola appeared to blow a tire causing the No. 10 Ford to spin leaving Larson with nowhere to go. The crash damage brought about a 31st place finish.
A run-in with Ryan Preece sent Larson into the outside wall on the dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway after leading 75 laps. A 35th place finish was the final result.
The 30-year-old driver was running within the top-5 late in the going at Talladega when cars running three-wide just ahead of him crashed collecting Larson. That incident left him 33rd in the final rundown after a hard hit was delivered by the oncoming car of Preece.
Ross Chastain got into the back of the slower car of Brennan Poole at Dover sending him for a spin. When the No. 15 car slid up the track, Larson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wreck came as Larson was charging hard through the field and looked as if he might run the leader down by the end of the first stage but that was not to be. Instead, he limped to a finish of 32nd.
Following the Dover race, Larson addressed his misfortune to Fox.
“I just hope our luck turns around soon,” Larson said. “I mean we have the fastest car every damn weekend and it doesn’t seem to work out. It was a long, frustrating day for me and a day where I get caught up in something that’s not my fault. I’m proud of the race cars that my team is bringing. We are the fastest car every week. My car is really fast but we just don’t have any luck right now.”
Obviously, there is no way to know how any of the races mentioned above would have played out had the accidents not occurred but the HMS team would have at least had a shot at more wins. If his cars continue to be as fast as they have been lately and his luck turns around, Kyle Larson could very well go on a sustained winning streak.
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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