NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Larson captures closest Cup finish ever at Kansas
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR takeaways: Kyle Larson captures closest Cup finish ever at Kansas

Published May. 6, 2024 12:10 a.m. ET

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kyle Larson needed all his talent and a bit of luck to capture the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Larson and Chris Buescher leaned on each other door-to-door over the final hundreds of yards with Larson nipping Buescher by 0.001 seconds Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

"I was good to get to his outside," Larson said. "And I was good to stay there. The rest of it? A little bit of luck for sure.


"With the way these cars are aero-wise, I thought I was going to murder the fence."

NASCAR's timing and scoring initially showed Buescher as the winner, but NASCAR's photo finish system showed Larson as the winner.

"We touched a little bit off of [Turn] 4 [and] I noticed that he was going to have the run back, so I hung a left and just tried to kill his momentum," Larson said about his side-drafting technique.

"I've seen so many times in NASCAR where if the guy has got a run you can just door him and it kind of stops it. That's what happened, and I got to the start-finish line, had no clue if I won or not. I guess I cared but really didn't honestly care because I was just like, ‘Man, that was freaking awesome.'"

Takeaways after Larson and Buescher were followed by Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.

Larson Thought He Lost

Larson thought he lost on the final lap. Crew chief Cliff Daniels told him timing and scoring showed he had finished second, and then after NASCAR officials announced over the race control radio that Larson had won, his spotter Tyler Monn relayed the message.

The confusion continued as Larson started to celebrate on the frontstretch.

"I was going nuts, and ... I was pumping the crowd up [with a burnout], and I look ahead and I'm like, ‘Oh s---' –Buescher is on the frontstretch and I was like, ‘Gosh I hope they didn't reverse the call and I'm looking like an idiot,'" Larson said.

Kyle Larson wins in a PHOTO FINISH at Kansas

Larson then continued to celebrate when he saw Buescher drive down pit road after learning he didn't win.

"It was just wild," Larson said. "I was never part of a finish like that in a stock car." 

Buescher Thought He Won

On the other side, Buescher thought he had won.

"The pylon had us up front — we were celebrating," Buescher said. "We were on top of the pylon and I was on the frontstretch and they said, ‘It was the 5 [of Larson] all of a sudden.'

"I'm baffled at the moment."

Chris Buescher thought he initially won Sunday before finding out Kyle Larson was vicrorious

Buescher crew chief Scott Graves met with NASCAR officials after the race. The issue was the line painted on the track was slightly crooked, but NASCAR's camera system — the same system typically used at major sporting events such as the Olympics — has a set uncrooked scoring line that it uses.

Graves said they would not protest the finish.

"They showed the picture they create using the lasers — we were just wondering if they use the painted line or not," Graves said. "They don't. They have a photo system that is a lot more accurate than that.

"They showed us the picture of it. It is what it is. It doesn't make any easier to swallow." 

Buescher didn't have a problem with the way he was raced.

"There was a lot of blocking from me — I certainly could have done more, and should have done more, I guess," Buescher said. "It was really tight up there and we obviously made contact.

"I'm sure he wished he had more space, too, and banged doors on the frontstretch all the way to the line."

Chris Buescher crew chief Scott Graves says he accepts NASCAR's decision

Hamlin, Truex Had Eyes On Win

Denny Hamlin was the leader when Kyle Busch spun with six laps remaining, and while he was the first off pit road as nine drivers took two fresh tires, he couldn't hold on for the win.

"[Larson] made the right move to split me [on the restart]," Hamlin said. "I was just in a spot once I got stuck three-wide, I had no momentum and I got freight-trained by everybody."

Denny Hamlin talks pit road issues and the final restart

Hamlin might not have held on for the win if Busch had not spun. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. was gaining significant ground and likely would have had a chance to pass him.

"Half a lap — I caught him quickly," Truex said. "I easily was going to pass him, but it doesn't matter because the caution came out."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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