RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Larson was Hendrick Motorsports' top finisher in Sunday night's Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway. Larson earned a third-place finish and was joined by Chase Elliott in the top five with a fifth-place result. William Byron also tallied a top-10 run, finishing seventh. 

Larson started from the pole position and led 64 of the 70 laps in stage one to score his series-best third stage win. The No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driver controlled the point position for 144 of the first 150 laps. He came to pit road at lap 151 for service as crew chief Cliff Daniels was planning to have the two split the stage in half (others had divided it into thirds). Leaving the pits in 16th, Larson was making fast times on the track and taking full advantage of his fresh tires as he drove up to sixth. Unfortunately, a caution on lap 171 threw a wrinkle in the pit stop strategy and he pitted with everyone else under yellow 21 laps after his previous stop. Larson went on to finish the second segment in fourth. 

Following his crew's fast work on pit road, Larson restarted second to kick off the final stage. He stuck with Martin Truex Jr. throughout the run and hit pit road with the leader on lap 287 as the No. 5 team split the final stage into thirds. Throughout the next run, Larson stayed in second. After pitting with Truex on lap 336, the 2021 Cup Series champion beat his competitor out of the pits by a hair. Truex passed him on lap 340. As the run went on, Larson said he had "way less grip" and started to fall to the back of the top five. Battling for fifth with two laps to go, Larson got a little loose around Bubba Wallace and the No. 23 got into the back of the No. 5. Larson's car suffered no damage as he was able to save it. Restarting fourth for the overtime finish, Larson got around Truex for third to earn his third top-five finish of the season and the 144 laps led were his most at Richmond.

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"Thankfully, I didn't get turned all the way around and I only lost one or two spots there," Larson said of the late-race spin. "My pit crew did a great job all night to gain those couple of spots back on pit road for us to lineup fourth and get one spot out of it. Proud of the No. 5 Chevy team. I'm really happy about the execution all night long. My pit crew kept putting us in position to have a shot to win, so I can't say much more."

Starting second in the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Elliott passed his teammate Larson for the lead on the opening lap and led the opening five circuits of the event. The 2020 Cup Series champion ran in the top seven throughout the opening stage and finished in seventh. Restarting in the top five for the second segment, Elliott maintained a top-10 position for much of the first two-thirds of the stage. The 28-year-old driver was happy with the car's balance during the middle portion of the stage. With 43 laps in stage two, Elliott restarted ninth but slid back to 13th, where he finished the segment. 

Elliott spent the first part of the final stage just outside the top 10. Crew chief Alan Gustafson would call his driver to pit road on the front side of green-flag stop cycles, which helped his driver gain a few spots off each pit stop. A pass on Brad Keselowski with 14 laps left in regulation put Elliott in seventh. For the overtime finish, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native restarted sixth after a strong pit stop. He picked up one more spot in the two-lap sprint to the finish. The fifth-place run was Elliott's best finish of the season and his eighth top-10 in the last 10 short-track races. It is also his sixth top-five finish at Richmond in 16 starts.

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"We found a little pace there those last two runs and we were able to pass a couple of cars under green," Elliott said. "We got ourselves in a position there to have a good pit stop there at the end. I stopped a little short in my box. I think we could have been one spot better there off of pit road, but nonetheless, had a good restart and gave ourselves a top five. It was a solid night. Looking forward to getting to Martinsville (Speedway) and trying to be a little better."

Byron, who started 13th in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, battled a tight race car in the opening stage. He lost ground on the opening start but was able to rally up to finish the stage in 12th. During pit stops between stages, Byron got blocked into his pit stall by another lead-lap car in Chase Briscoe and lost a few positions trying to leave the pits. Restarting in 18th, the two-time winner in 2024 was still fighting a tight race car. Crew chief Rudy Fugle was planning to split the stage in thirds and they were on the right side of that strategy in the second stage based on how the caution fell on lap 171. Byron restarted in the top 10 and felt his car was improving as he finished the segment in ninth. 

For the final stage, Byron restarted in eighth and Fugle aggressively called his driver to pit on the front side of green-flag stop cycles. This maneuver helped his driver pick up spots in the pits and after cycling out to sixth with 100 laps to go, Byron remarked that this is the "best we've been." Over the final 100 laps, the 2024 DAYTONA 500 champion spent much of the time in fifth or sixth. After pitting ahead of the overtime finish, he restarted fifth before Elliott and Christopher Bell got past him in the two-lap sprint. Byron's seventh-place result is his fourth top-10 of the season and his third top-10 at Richmond. This was also Byron's seventh straight top-10 finish in a night race.

“It was a grind today," Byron said. "We got the car handling well there at the end. We just needed a little bit more. I’m proud of my guys for pushing through and turning it around when things weren’t going right early on. We’ll take what we learned tonight and build for next weekend."

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Alex Bowman started from a season-best fourth position on the grid in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Bowman quickly took third and passed teammate Elliott for second 11 laps in. Throughout the opening stage, he ran in the top four and earned a third-place finish after the opening 70 laps. Bowman radioed to his team that the car was a little too tight. Following pit stops between stages, he restarted third but fell to sixth as he was tight taking off on that run and needed some help with entry and exit in the corners. 

Crew chief Blake Harris planned to split the stage in half, so Bowman pitted from second on lap 153. There was trouble on the right rear, leading to a longer stop and putting him one lap down. Unfortunately, a caution on lap 171 hindered the team's planned strategy as they would have leapfrogged cars, splitting the stage into thirds. The No. 48 took the wave around to return to the lead lap. Bowman fought hard from 18th to stay on the lead lap ahead of Truex, but he was edged at the line at the end of the stage. Receiving the free pass for the final stage, Bowman restarted 20th. The team ran longer in cycles than some of the field but couldn't make up the track position lost by the untimely caution in stage two. Bowman finished the race in 17th.

Denny Hamlin won the race in an overtime finish to join Byron as the only other two-time winner in the Cup Series this season. Teams started the race on wet-weather tires for damp surfaces and those were the tires used up until the competition caution after lap 30. The pit stops at the competition caution for teams to switch to slicks were non-competitive, meaning that teams retook the positions they came to pit road in. 

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Hendrick Motorsports had a trio of top 10s for the third consecutive spring race at Richmond. This year, it was Larson (fourth), Elliott (fifth) and Byron (seventh). In 2023, it was Larson (first), Josh Berry (second, filling in for an injured Elliott) and Bowman (eighth). In 2022, it was Byron (third), Larson (fifth) and Bowman (eighth). This was also the seventh race at the 0.75-mile track where Hendrick Motorsports placed three drivers in the top 10.

Leaving Richmond, Larson is now second in the points standings and 14 markers behind Truex. Byron is seventh, Elliott is eighth and Bowman holds down 11th. 

Next up for Hendrick Motorsports is the spring race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has won a series-leading 28 times at the 0.526-mile track. This race will mark the team's 40th anniversary celebration of its first win by driver Geoff Bodine in 1984 at Martinsville. The team's four entries will be sporting special red paint schemes to honor the team's ruby anniversary. Hendrick will drive the pace car, while Bodine and team vice chairman Jeff Gordon will be co-grand marshals.

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