Larson romps to yet another win for Hendrick Motorsports
LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — Kyle Larson won again — that’s all he does these days — this time in the Cup debut at Nashville Superspeedway, where Hendrick Motorsports’ new star drove to victory lane for the fourth consecutive week.
Larson led 264 of 300 laps Sunday for his third consecutive win in a points race, fourth straight including last weekend’s All-Star race. That win at Texas Motor Speedway kicked off a stretch of four wins in seven days as Larson collected the $1 million All-Star payout then traveled to Ohio to pocket the $6,000 purses in two sprint car races.
Rick Hendrick’s cars have been to victory lane six consecutive weeks dating to Alex Bowman’s May 9 win at Dover.
Nashville Superspeedway re-opened this weekend after a decade of dormancy to host its first ever Cup race. NASCAR’s top series last raced in the Nashville-area 37 years ago at the Fairgrounds, where Geoff Bodine won in the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick.
To celebrate his win in his new No. 5, Larson did burnouts along the entire Nashville frontstretch to put on a show for the sold-out crowd of 40,000.
“There’s a lot of fans out there and we had enough rubber and enough fuel there to do a good burnout at the end,” Larson said.
Next up for Larson is a trip to Brandon, South Dakota, for Monday and Tuesday night World of Outlaws races at Huset’s Speedway.
Larson’s fourth Cup points win of the season was the first with sponsor Valvoline on his hood, which marked just the third time in 17 races so far this season that Larson featured a non-Hendrick company on his car. He’s largely unsponsored after missing all but four races last season during a NASCAR suspension for using a racial slur while participating in an online race.
Ross Chastain finished second for Chip Ganassi Racing and Hendrick driver William Byron was third in a Chevrolet podium sweep.
“My goodness, we don’t have anything for those Chevrolets right now,” said Ford driver Aric Almirola, who finished fourth after starting from the pole.
His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate finished fifth in one of the better days for the slumping organization. The pair of top-fives came the same day team co-owner Tony Stewart was at his first Cup race since the start of the pandemic.
Traffic issues leading into the speedway delayed the start the race by 10 minutes.
NASCAR asked television partner NBC Sports to push back its first Cup race of the season to allow for more fans to get seated before the race began. NBCSN had an NHL playoff game scheduled Sunday night and could only afford the 10-minute delay.
Nashville Superspeedway is 28 miles east of downtown Music City and the race was a sellout at about 40,000 spectators in the grandstands, temporary seating and suites.
Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson and the wife of Cup rookie Chase Briscoe were among those caught in the congestion and Gragson tweeted that he had “been in traffic for 2 hours. Brutal.”
Nashville opened in 2001 and hosted 21 Xfinity Series races and 13 Truck Series events before it closed in 2011 when it couldn’t get a coveted Cup date. Dover Motorsports owns the track and moved one of its weekends from its Delaware facility to Nashville to reopen the speedway and at last host a Cup race.
NASCAR awarded the track a four-year sanctioning agreement.
NASCAR races both Saturday and Sunday next weekend in a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin split the two races last season.
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