The Hendrick Motorsports momentum will continue for another week in the NASCAR Cup Series as Kyle Larson came out on top of a HMS 1-2 finish in Sunday's Toyota Owners 400. For Larson, it was his first win of the 2023 season and it came on a day where it didn't look like he quite had the car capable of winning for the majority of the day.
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However, Larson kept himself in striking distance all race long, and when circumstances fell his way in the closing laps, Larson got up on the wheel and scored the win over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Josh Berry, who came home in the runner-up spot.
After performing a spectacular burnout on the frontstretch, Larson thanked his pit crew for a clutch late-race pit stop that gave him control of the race and put him in position to seal the deal.
"It's really cool. We've been really close to winning a couple of them. William [Byron] has been extremely good this year. It was going to be between probably him, [Martin Truex Jr.], us and [Christopher Bell] was really good. Just things worked out. My pit crew had a great stop," Larson said.
Berry, 32, was making his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start of the season in relief of Chase Elliott, who broke his leg in a snowboarding accident after the second race of the season.
The full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor was all smiles after recording his career-best finish, and his second top-10 finish since taking over the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports entry. While he finished runner-up to Larson on Sunday, Berry was not in the conversation for the lead for most of the day.
However, on the final long green flag run of the race, Berry and his team opted to stay on the track as long as they could in hopes that a timely caution before they pitted would help them gain track position.
Needless to say, the gamble paid off and Berry capitalized in the final laps of the race.
"Man, this is really cool," Berry said. "I have to give the credit to this NAPA team. Tom [Gray] Alan [Gustafson], remotely of course, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They made some great calls. We were, when we got some clean track, we weren't running bad lap times. I'm so glad they tried something different there to get some track position."
Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain finished third behind the Hendrick Motorsports duo, while Christopher Bell came home in fourth.
Bell made contact with William Byron with 22 laps remaining in the event, which sent Byron -- the race's dominant driver -- backing into the outside wall.
Here is a video of the incident between Byron and Bell:
Byron would come home 24th in the running order after leading a race-high 117 laps. It was a disappointing end to another strong day for Byron.
"Just looked like [Chastain] was inside of [Bell] and [Bell] overcooked the corner, had the fronts locked up and nailed us in the left rear," Byron explained. "I was just restarting fourth there, and was trying to stay tight to [Berry] and get a good restart."
While the end result was frustrating, Byron finds solace in the speed that his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team has continually brought to the track in 2023.
"It is what it is. Had a great race car," Byron stated. "The Raptor Chevrolet was awesome all day. We'll just keep bringing fast race cars like that and we'll get a lot more wins. It was looking to be another win before the caution. That's the way it goes."
Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers on the day in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.
Michael McDowell, who utilized the same strategy as Berry to gain track position, came home in sixth and he was followed by Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Ty Gibbs, and Brad Keselowski inside the top-10.
For Gibbs, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, this was his third-consecutive ninth-place finish.
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images
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