Kyle Larson might have returned to his dominating ways. He scored the win in the first race in the Round of Eight in the NASCAR Playoffs race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 looked a little more like a race at a super speedway than an intermediate mile-and-half track. There was a “big one” with just 32 laps completed in the race. The yellow came out after a crash on the backstretch that involved at least 12 cars. Five of the eleven caution periods come in the final 30 laps of the race. One of those accidents included a fiery crash that included an 11 minute red flag.
Kyle Larson started from the pole and showed that he would contend for the win from the first green flag. Kyle Busch also was showing he wanted the win as much as anybody. Busch was able to stay near the front through the first stage and with a little strategy scored the stage one win.
Kyle Larson used the second stage to show that not only would he contend for the win, he would be the car to beat in the race. He was able to score the win in the second stage of the race. Kyle took the lead for the fifth time on lap 117 and held it for the final 218 laps of the race. He led a race high 256 laps in the 334 lap race.
Kyle Larson was the winner of the All Star Race held at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season. However, this was his first win at Texas Motor Speedway in a point paying race. It is his third win of the 2021 Playoffs and his eighth win (not counting the All Star win) of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
William Byron (a non-playoff driver) was able to claim the second place finish. Christopher Bell (a non-playoff driver) finished in third place. Playoff driver Brad Keselowski took home fourth place. Kevin Harvick (a non-playoff driver) rounded out the top five. See the complete race results for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 here.
Kyle Larson leaves Texas Motor Speedway at the top of the NASCAR Playoff Standings. He is the first driver to lock himself in the Championship Four, winner takes all race at Phoenix Raceway.
Ryan Blaney leaves Texas in the second spot in the Playoff standings with a 17-point lead over the cut line. Denny Hamlin holds third place with a nine-point buffer over the cut line. Currently, the fourth driver above the cut line in the Round of Eight is Kyle Busch with an eight-point lead. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings here.
The next chance to earn a spot in the Championship Four will come in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway Sunday, October 24th.
By: Buck Stevens