NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Larson not the big winner at Kansas

Kyle Larson's historic win at Kansas Speedway on Sunday night was also a welcome victory for a few other NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Kansas Speedway, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Kansas Speedway, NASCAR / Logan Riely/GettyImages

Original timing and scoring showed that RFK Racing's Chris Buescher had won Sunday's rain-delayed AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway. A further review showed that he finished 0.001 seconds behind Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson in what was the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Buescher, who won a career-high three races last year after collecting his first win since 2016 in late 2022, could have used the victory in the 268-lap race around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Kansas City, Kansas oval, as he entered the weekend hovering around the playoff cut line. In fact, despite being 14th in points, he was the 16th and final driver above the cut line through 11 races.

Additionally, Ford started the season 0 for 11. After losing out to Chevrolet and Trackhouse Racing Team's Daniel Suarez with Team Penske's Ryan Blaney by just 0.003 seconds at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, Sunday's runner-up finish had to have hurt even worse.

But even as Larson secured his 25th career win, he was not the biggest winner on Sunday at Kansas.

Larson was not technically locked into the playoffs, even after his win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March. There could still be more than 16 regular season race winners, as there have already been seven and there are 14 races remaining on the 26-race regular season schedule.

However, as the points leader, Larson was never really at risk of missing the playoffs. In the event that there are more winners than playoff spots, the tiebreaker among single-race winners becomes points.

But now with two wins, he is officially locked in, as the playoff spots are awarded to the drivers with the most wins first, and there can be no more than 13 multi-race winners during the regular season. The two other drivers locked in have both won three times, those being Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron and Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin.

The biggest winners of the day were Suarez and Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell, two winners who find themselves relatively low in the point standings and thus potentially at risk of missing the postseason if there do end up being more winners than available playoff spots.

Suarez, who has just one top 10 finish in the 10 races contested since his victory at Atlanta, sits in 18th place in the point standings after finishing in 27th on Sunday. Bell, who won at Phoenix Raceway, sits in 13th after recording a sixth place finish on Sunday, his first finish better than 17th since March.

Larson beating Buescher to the line prevented there from being an eighth different winner through the season's first 12 races, eliminating one of the remaining opportunities for a new driver to emerge victorious.

Buescher now sits in 11th place in the point standings and 13th in the playoff picture, 33 points above the playoff cut line. Larson continues to lead the standings.

The two other drivers with one win, Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott and 23XI Racing's Tyler Reddick, sit in third and fifth place in the point standings, respectively.

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The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season's 13th race is the Goodyear 400, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from Darlington Raceway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, May 12. Byron is the reigning race winner, though Larson is the most recent winner at the track from September. If you have not yet started a free trial of FuboTV, do so now and don't miss it!