Kyle Larson Knows Who Had the Better Car at End of Kansas NASCAR Race

·5 min read
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NASCAR Notebook: Hamlin Wasn't Larson's Only IssueJonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Kyle Larson in the No. 5 Chevy was the top lap leader in Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway, setting the pace on seven occasions for 85 laps, but on the final circuit Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota tagged Larson’s Chevrolet just enough to get it squirrely. Larson regained control, but Hamlin snatched the lead and his first victory since the Coca-Cola 600 last May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I was really loose,” Larson said. “I was trying to do what I could to manage it.”

Larson admitted Hamlin was a “little better” than him at the end of the race.

“Obviously, he (Hamlin) was side drafting really aggressively … but he was touching me, it felt like,” Larson said. “It just had me out of control.”

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William Byron raced to the front with 55 laps to go. Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Byron Rebounds For Third

After earning the pole for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway and leading the first two laps, William Byron appeared he would be in the victory hunt throughout the day. However, that wasn’t the case.

In the 400-lap race’s first Stage, which covered 80 laps, Byron hit the wall twice and received a speeding penalty. He went three laps down, and at one point, was two laps down for 53 laps. However, he worked steadily throughout the event to regain the lost laps. When the fifth of 11 yellow flags waved on lap 148, Byron received the free pass, which returned him to the lead lap.

With 55 laps remaining, Byron grabbed the lead and held it for eight laps before relinquishing it to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson.

Byron said he couldn’t contend for the win at the end because his car’s tail wasn’t right.

“It was knocked over and the car was really loose towards the end of any longer run,” Byron said after finishing third. “A tough situation.”

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Chase Briscoe was one of two Ford drivers to lose wheels.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Briscoe, Cindric Lose Wheels

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric were two Ford drivers plagued by loose wheels during Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 won by Denny Hamlin.

The left-front wheel came off Briscoe’s Ford as he drove down Kansas Speedway’s pit road. The tire rolled over to the wall and was retrieved by one of Noah Gragson’s crew members. Since it occurred during a green-flag stop and the car never left pit road, Briscoe was assessed a pass-thru penalty.

Cindric wasn’t as fortunate. His Ford’s right-front wheel came off and sent him into the wall on lap 108. Due to Cindric’s misfortune occurring on the track, he was assessed a two-lap penalty. He also will have two crew members from the Kansas roster suspended for two races. Those names will be on NASCAR’s penalty report when it’s released later this week.

Cindric finished 31st and Briscoe 32nd, both seven laps down.

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Joey Logano overcame tire issues to finish sixth.Sean Gardner - Getty Images

More Tire Issues For Logano

Joey Logano salvaged a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in the AdventHealth 400, but for the second straight week the Team Penske driver experienced tire issues.

“If we had the right tires on, it’s pretty good,” Logano said. “Seems like it’s an inconsistency in tires. We’ve been fighting that (tire issues) the last few weeks. We’ve got to get to the bottom of that to understand it a little better.”

Balance Issues Plague Almirola

Aric Almirola was running in the top 10 midway through the 267-lap AdventHealth 400 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway when suddenly his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford spun on the backstretch.

“Our cars are really knife-edge right now,” Almirola said. “We’re having a lot of trouble getting our cars balanced. There is such a small window to get the balance where we need it to be that it just makes it really difficult to race. We can be really right, we can be really loose, but we can’t get it in the window where we need it to be—consistent.”

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Brad Keselowski says that there’s a reason some owners are more successful than others in the Cup Series. And it’s not luck.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Board Room Decisions Determine Track Performance

Team co-owner Brad Keselowski says NASCAR teams operate under this “level of secrecy,” but the decisions made in a team’s board room are just as important as the ones made from the pit box on race day.

“There’s this perception that I think is probably unfair, that the ownership group is just kind of this show up and race effort,” Keselowski said. “Where really a lot of the battle that you see on the race track is happening in the boardrooms with decisions on hiring drivers and hiring crew chiefs and where to put resources – aero, engines, vehicle dynamics. How to get the next great talent out of the schools, whether it be for a pit crew member or for an engineer. These are very serious battles and … there are winners and losers on these every day. The guys that are good at it, they’re the ones that are winning the races.

“It hides behind the driver that won the race, and I think a lot of these owners are quite OK with that, myself included. The reality is a lot of the battle happens at the ownership and the GM level of what you see on any given Sunday.”

Keselowski said it probably was tougher to break through the owners’ club than the drivers club.