NASCAR: Kyle Larson ends a historic drought at Las Vegas

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Kyle Larson’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory since his return to the sport came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and it ended a historic drought.

In his fourth start back in the NASCAR Cup Series after his firing from Chip Ganassi Racing last year, Kyle Larson made his seventh career trip to victory lane and his first since he won at Dover International Speedway in October 2019.

The driver of the #5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports dominated this afternoon’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning the second stage before going on to become the sixth stage winner in the last eight races at the track to take the checkered flag.

Larson held off Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski by 3.156 seconds to secure the victory.

Aside from the top spot, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing dominated the top seven.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell finished in third, fourth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano finished in fifth and ninth place, respectively.

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron finished in eighth place, and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Erik Jones bounced back from contact with the wall to finish in a solid 10th.

More from NASCAR Cup Series

But Larson’s win was far more significant than him simply getting his first win since his NASCAR return, his first win since late in the 2019 season and just his second win since the 2017 regular season ended.

Larson entered today’s race with 226 career Cup Series starts, and 71 of them had come at 1.5-mile ovals. In those 71 starts at 1.5-mile ovals heading into today’s race, Larson had recorded 34 top 10 finishes, and nine of those top 10 finishes were runner-up results.

That number of runner-up finishes is the most all-time at 1.5-mile ovals without a win.

And most importantly, that streak won’t be hitting 10.

Trending. Kyle Larson breaks a record. light

Larson led 103 laps of this afternoon’s 267-lap race around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Las Vegas, Nevada, one more than teammate William Byron led en route to his win in last Sunday’s 267-lap race around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Homestead-Miami Speedway oval in Homestead, Florida.

Here’s a list of Larson’s nine runner-up finishes on 1.5-mile ovals.

  • Kansas Speedway – 2014
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway – 2016
  • Atlanta Motor Speedway – 2017
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 2017
  • Texas Motor Speedway – 2017
  • Kentucky Speedway – 2017
  • Chicagoland Speedway – 2018
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 2018
  • Chicagoland Speedway – 2019

dark. Next. Top 25 NASCAR drivers of all-time

The next race on the 2021 schedule is the Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET next Sunday, March 14. The next race at a 1.5-mile oval on the schedule is the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 21.