NASCAR has a new points leader after the Sonoma race

Despite the fact that he missed a race last month, Kyle Larson is back atop the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after his latest win.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson took the lead of the NASCAR Cup Series point standings for the third time this year following the race at Martinsville Speedway in early April. He also led after the March races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

But after leading the standings for six straight races, he missed the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month in order to stay at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in the rain-delayed Indy 500.

As a result, he relinquished the lead to Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, who retained it after the following weekend's race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Kyle Larson retakes NASCAR points lead

Now the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet is back on top after securing his third win of the season in Sunday afternoon's race at Sonoma Raceway, a race from which Hamlin was forced to retire as a result of an early engine issue.

Hamlin dropped to third place in the point standings, with Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott moving up to second. Like Larson, Hamlin has three wins to his name this year.

Larson's lead over Elliott is 14 points. Elliott, who won at Texas Motor Speedway in April, has not led the standings this season. Teammate William Byron, the only other driver with three wins this year, sits in sixth place in the standings.

Larson has been granted a playoff waiver by NASCAR, meaning that his absence from the Coca-Cola 600 will not count against his postseason eligibility. The 2021 series champion is locked into the 16-driver field for the four-round, 10-race playoffs.

The 31-year-old Elk Grove, California native leads all drivers in stage victories with seven. With his three victories giving him five playoff points each, he owns a series-high 22 playoff points through the season's first 16 races.

The regular season champion is awarded an additional 15 playoff points, meaning that Larson also leads the provisional playoff point standings with 37.

NASCAR changes Sonoma results shortly after the race ends. NASCAR changes Sonoma results shortly after the race ends. dark. Next

The 17th race on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the series' first ever race at Iowa Speedway. The Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol is set to be broadcast live on USA Network starting at 7:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, June 16. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss any of the action!