HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Sunday afternoon saw Kyle Larson take home his third victory of the 2022 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win is the 30-year-old driver's 13th with Hendrick Motorsports.
Larson began the day in the fifth position but quickly advanced to the front of the field, taking the lead on lap 27. The Elk Grove, California, native would go on to lead 199 of 267 laps on his way to victory lane.
While not in the driver’s championship, Larson’s victory locks the No. 5 entry into the owner’s Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway in two weeks.
“Yeah, definitely the best run we've had all year long. We've been capable of it I feel like many weekends, we just haven't quite put it all together." said Larson. "Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) gave a great speech this morning and got us all ready to go and focused, and I did my best to keep it out of the wall. I got in the wall a few times, but I could still make speed doing that."
After a hard-fought day, William Byron brought home the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the 12th position. Byron began the day from the pole but lost a lap during the final stage when a caution flag came out during a green flag pit stop. In addition to the finish, the driver of the No. 24 earned 17 valuable stage points and enters the final race in the Round of 8 five markers above the cutline.
Chase Elliott ended the race in the 14th position. The No. 9 entry was also caught a lap down under green flag pit stops in stage three but was able to move up through the field to finish inside the top-15. Elliott heads into Martinsville Speedway next week with an 11-point advantage over the final transfer spot.
“We were playing defense all day, but we were doing a pretty good job of it and staying inside the top-five there, so that was great." said Elliott. "But that’s what happens when you’re playing defense and you have something like that happen to you.. you just get stuck. The other guys that got buried; they drove right back to the front. That’s just the difference.”
Noah Gragson returned to drive the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as Alex Bowman continues to recover from a concussion sustained in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway. Gragson ended the day in the 25th position.
Next Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series will make the trip to Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway for the final race in the Round of 8. Catch all the action on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 2:00 P.M. ET on NBC, MRN Radio, and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 1st
Stage one: Despite starting in the fifth position, Larson began moving towards the front of the pack as soon as the green flag dropped. By lap five, he occupied the runner-up position behind Byron. Lap 27 saw Larson pass his teammate to claim the lead of the race shortly before the first caution flag of the event came out on lap 29. Despite losing the lead on pit road, Larson returned to the point on lap 38 after passing the No. 24 entry once again. By lap 55, Larson led the field by four seconds and cruised to the stage one victory.
Stage two: The beginning of stage two saw a brief battle between Byron and Larson for the top spot. Larson would prevail and proceed to pace the field once again. Crew chief Cliff Daniels radioed his driver while he was at the point giving him an update saying, “the wind is the same as it’s been all day,” informing his driver to continue the pace that he was running. Following green flag pit stops, Larson rejoined the race with four tires and fuel and a five-second lead over second place. Caution returned to the track on lap 160 with the 30-year-old driver continuing to lead the field. Stage two would end under the yellow flag with Larson earning his second stage victory of the afternoon.
Final stage: Larson brought the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to the attention of his pit crew under the caution flag on lap 166. In the pits, the No. 5 pit crew maintained the lead and allowed Larson to restart as the leader. On the restart to begin the final stage, Larson maintained his lead. By lap 190, he commanded a five second advantage over second place. Despite the lead, Daniels planned for the track to change over the course of the race, asking his driver to be mindful of how the track would adjust throughout the run. Caution returned to Homestead-Miami on lap 210 with Larson leading the field in the midst of green-flag pit stops. Because of the cycle not being completed, two drivers that pitted before the caution flag came out jumped Larson under the caution flag when the No. 5 entry pitted. As a result, Larson lined in the fourth spot on track as the field restarted with 51 laps to go in the race. Despite falling to fifth on the restart, Larson was able to regroup and return to his rhythm, moving up to third by lap 229. With 32 laps to go, he moved into the runner-up position. Lap 244 saw the caution flag return to the track for the fifth time during the race. Under the caution flag, the No. 5 entry made contact with Martin Truex Jr. on pit road but did not sustain any significant damage. The ensuing restart saw Larson pull away from his competition and take the checkered flag. The win was his first ever at Homestead-Miami and locks in the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the owner's Championship 4.
William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 12th
Stage one: Byron began the 400-mile Cup Series main event from pole position and jumped out to an early lead following the drop of the green flag. After leading the first 26 laps, Byron was passed by Larson on lap 27. The yellow flag displayed shortly after the move with Byron holding the runner-up position. Under the caution, the No. 24 pit crew’s quick work to get their driver four tires and fuel resulted in a return to the lead. Despite falling back to the third position under green-flag racing, crew chief Rudy Fugle radioed his driver saying, “remember in practice, don’t burn our stuff up, do what you need to do.” The advice worked as Byron drove back to the runner-up position, earning a valuable nine stage points in the process.
Stage two: Byron started the second stage in the runner-up position and settled into that spot after the green flag returned to the South Florida facility. Despite losing the second position, spotter Branden Lines radioed his driver under the green flag encouraging saying, “really good rhythm,” as the No. 24 continued to maintain his gap to fourth place. After completing green flag pit stops, Byron rejoined the race with four fresh tires and fuel in the third position. With 20 laps to go in stage two, the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 made slight contact with the wall but suffered no major damage as he continued in the third position. Caution came out on lap 160 with the No. 24 entry still occupying the third position. Stage two came to an end under the yellow flag with Byron earned eight more stage points.
Final stage: Under the stage break, Fugle brought Byron onto pit road for four tires and fuel with the rest of the lead lap cars. The pit stop also included an air pressure adjustment, with Byron maintaining the third position. After briefly battling for the lead on the restart to begin stage three, Byron dropped back to the eighth position on track. Lines again radioed his driver a message of encouragement, saying, “Do the best you can, we’ll get you fixed up,” as Byron began to struggle with the balance of his racecar. With 61 laps to go, he brought the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to pit road for four tires and fuel. After an issue on pit road that cost the No. 24 entry time, the caution flag came out on lap 210. The cycle saw the No. 24 entry lose a lap to the field but take the wave around to catch back up to the pack. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native lined up in the 19th position for the restart with 51 laps to go. Shortly after the race resumed green-flag action, Byron gained three positions up to the 16th spot. Caution returned to the track on lap 244 with Byron now in the 17th position. The No. 24 entry then pitted for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment, lining up in the 15th position for the restart. When the checkered flag came out, Byron crossed the line in the 12th position, 5 points above the cutline headed into Martinsville.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 14th
Stage one: The No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 rolled off the grid in the third position. After the green flag came out, Elliott dropped back a few positions, running seventh by lap 20. The caution flag came out for the first time of the afternoon on lap 29, with Elliott running in the sixth spot. After pitting for four tires and fuel, the No. 9 entry lined up in the fifth position for the restart on lap 34 and gained one spot after the race resumed. The end of the stage came out with Elliott occupying the eighth spot.
Stage two: Elliott began the second stage in the fifth position and maintained his spot after the race resumed. Under the green flag, Elliott radioed crew chief Alan Gustafson saying he, “needed the back locked down more for center off (the corner),” as the driver of the No. 9 looked for an adjustment to help with rear grip. Lap 120 saw Elliott make his way down pit road. Under the green flag, the No. 9 pit crew gave Elliott four tires and fuel as well as a half round out of the right rear, rejoining the race in the sixth position. Back on the racetrack, Elliott battled with Ross Chastain until the end of the stage with the driver of the No. 9 finishing ahead in the sixth position. Stage two did finish under the yellow flag as a caution returned to the speedway on lap 160 and the race was not restarted until after the stage was completed.
Final stage: With the No. 9 pit crew earning their driver one spot on pit road during the stage break, Elliott lined up in the fifth position to begin the final segment. By lap 182, Elliott had advanced into the fourth spot on track. Over the radio, Elliott radioed his crew chief saying, “I need more front grip,” as he continued to occupy a spot inside the top-five. Crew chief Alan Gustafson decided to bring Elliott to pit road under the green flag on lap 209. After rejoining the race, Elliott was scored in the 13th spot, one lap down due to the caution flag coming out during green flag pit stops. The driver of the No. 9 would take the wave around to rejoin the lead lap and restarted in the 13th spot. After green-flag action returned to Homestead-Miami, Elliott settled into the 14th position on track. The caution came back out on lap 244 with Elliott bringing the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to pit road and earned four positions due to a fast stop from his pit crew. The quick work allowed Elliott to restart in 12th. After the resumption of racing, Elliott fell back to 14th, crossing the line in that position. The driver of the No. 9 heads to Martinsville next weekend, 11 points above the cutline.
Noah Gragson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 25th
Stage one: After qualifying in the 24th position, Gragson ran around that spot as the race began and continued to hold it when the afternoon’s first caution flag came out on lap 29. After pitting for four tires, fuel, chassis, and air pressure adjustments, the No. 48 Ally Racing team lined up in the 33rd position for lap 36’s restart. By lap 50, Gragson had moved up into the 28th position. By the time the caution flag came out to conclude the opening stage, Gragson crossed the line in the 22nd position.
Stage two: After starting in the 21st position, Gragson ran around the same spot for the beginning of the second stage. While running around this spot, Gragson brought the car down pit road for four tires and fuel. While coming to pit road, Gragson did not get the car shifted into the correct gear and sped on pit road. He returned the next lap to make a pass-through penalty. After returning to pit road, the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 blended back into the 29th position, one lap down. Over the radio, Gragson radioed his team saying he struggled with, “right front and right rear grip.” By the time the caution flag came out on lap 160, Gragson earned the 27th position on track. Stage two came to a conclusion under the yellow flag.
Final stage: During the caution, the No. 48 Ally Racing team returned to pit road for four tires and fuel, restarting in the 24th position to begin the third and final stage. As the race returned to green flag conditions, Gragson continued to run around this position. Over the radio, spotter Kevin Hamlin radioed his driver giving him advice as to where his competitors were faster, noting that the exit of turns 2 and 4 were the main spot that Gragson was losing time. Caution returned to Homestead-Miami on lap 210 with Gragson scored in the 21st position. After pitting under the yellow, the No. 48 Ally Racing Team lined up in the 23rd position for the restart, still one lap down. When green flag racing resumed, Gragson continued to maintain his position on the racetrack. Caution returned to the speedway on lap 244 with Gragson scored in the 24th position. Under the yellow flag, Gragson again pitted for four tires and fuel, rejoining the field in the 26th spot. Following the final restart, Gragson brought home the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the 25th position.