Kyle Larson was one corner away from a fourth straight NASCAR Cup Series win when racing fate intervened.
As he entered Turn 3 on the last lap of the Organics CBD 325,Larson blew a left-front tire. His No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet hit the outside wall as teammate Alex Bowman drove by for the win. Larson crossed the finish line in ninth-placed and crashed again in Turn 1 before bringing his mangled car to a stop and climbing out.
“I guess disbelief still,” Larson said. “I don’t know, a little bit laughable just because I can’t believe it. Hate that we didn’t get another win. It would have been cool to win five in a row. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess, today.
“I felt something like right in the middle of the tunnel (turn). I wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. It finally kind of shredded halfway through the short chute there. I couldn’t turn. Hate that we didn’t get the win. Cool that Alex still did, a Hendrick car with another win. Cool to keep Mr. H’s streak going. Yeah, I hate we didn’t get HendrickCars.com into victory lane, but we’ll try to start another streak tomorrow.”
Another points-paying win would have put Larson in elite NASCAR company. Larson entered Pocono off three straight wins at Charlotte, Sonoma, and Nashville. He also banked the $1 million All-Star Race prize during that stretch.
Jimmie Johnson, in 2007, is the last driver to win four straight races. Only eight drivers have done so in the modern era: Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, Harry Gant, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, and Cale Yarborough.
Poc O NO
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Larson took the lead with four laps to go after hounding Bowman for nearly 15 laps after the race’s final restart. Although he started from the pole, Larson didn’t have the dominant car as in recent weeks, leading a total of 15 of the race’s 130 laps and not winning a stage.
The cause of the cut tire is unknown. Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Andrews said in the winner’s press conference the team had not yet evaluated the tire, and Larson didn’t think they had issues during the race.
“I must have just run something over, I guess,” Larson said. “I was having to work really hard to get by him. I was honestly happy to see him get to the lead because I had pulled away from him so much that run-up before the caution, but then he was really fast out front. Just fast enough, I could never get to his inside. He was running low enough, I was a little bit choked down.
“He was starting to get really tight through (Turn) 1. I was able to kind of use that to my advantage, fake him low a little bit, mess his angle up, get him tighter off of (Turn) 1. I was finally able to get by him. Thought we were going to get the win, but we didn’t.”
Larson will go to a backup car for Sunday’s race at Pocono and start at the rear of the field.