Kyle Larson takes command of his Coca Cola 600 victory in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s crown jewel event.
A Memorial Day Weekend tradition unlike any other, the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening is an event that many look forward to at this point of the season. A great memorial service followed by 600 miles of racing throughout the night. The crown jewel event is a tough endurance race that makes it much more difficult on drivers and teams than any other on the schedule. The Coca-Cola 600 is a race that many drivers yearn to win, but only one will hoist the trophy at the end of the night.
Kyle Larson Takes Command of the Coca-Cola 600
Kyle Larson held the pole coming into Sunday’s race. He immediately jumped out front and took control of the race. He and two other Hendrick Motorsports teammates commanded the top-three for all of the first segment.
The entire first stage ran caution-free, with one pit cycle occurring in the middle of the segment. Larson cycled back into the lead for the remaining 42 laps with no issues. Kyle Larson wins the first stage.
Several Take a Turn in the Lead During the Second Stage
Kyle Larson continued to pave the way in the lead, but not for long. Kyle Larson was held up by lapped traffic allowing Chase Elliott to make a move and pass for the lead on lap 32 of the segment. Elliott took over, and while it seemed that the segment was his to win, Kurt Busch blew his engine to bring out a caution.
All the drivers came down pit road with Alex Bowman winning the race back to the track. With 22 laps remaining, Bowman jumped out front with Denny Hamlin following closely behind. Two laps after the restart, Bowman lost the lead when Hamlin took his shot to pass him for the top spot.
With ten laps remaining, Chase Elliott moved back into the lead and was then leap-frogged by Kyle Larson. Larson held off a late push by Chase Elliott to prevail with another stage win.
Stages Three and Four are Caution-Free
The remaining two stages ran caution-free with Kyle Larson continuing to dominate. After winning the third stage, Kyle Larson had to tango with Kyle Busch on the restart of the final stage.
The two made some high-risk maneuvers on the opening two laps, with Larson winning the battle. Kyle Larson had the best car Sunday night, and he took advantage of it. Kyle Larson took command on 327 of the 400 total laps to claim the Coca-Cola 600 victory.
The main trend when races start in the evening and end at night is that the driver who dominates early will typically taper off when the sun goes down. There is a major temperature change in the track surface once the sun goes down. That’s the biggest challenge for teams to transition the car for the race condition change from daytime to nighttime.
Many teams set themselves up to run better during the night. Kyle Larson broke the trend on Sunday night. He was fast early, fast throughout the middle portion, and flat out dominated the final stage. It was an all-around special night for that Hendrick Motorsports team, and many could sense that Larson was going to win.
This is Larson’s second win of the year, and most likely, not be his last. Kyle Larson has four top-five finishes in his last five races. Along with his win on Sunday, three of his top-fives are second-place finishes. Kyle Larson is emerging as a superstar in the NASCAR Cup Series. If Larson and the team of the No. 5 can keep up their performance, this could be a very special year for them at Hendrick Motorsports.