With a handful of laps left in a pitched battle between Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson joined the party.
Larson needed a victory in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway to advance to the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and late in the race, he began making dramatic gains on Busch, who was running second, and Elliott, who held the lead.
Larson, however, stalled out in third place and saw his chance for a championship ended two positions short at the finish of a remarkable weekend for the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team.
Larson wrecked his primary car two laps into Friday’s opening practice and qualified 27th in a backup. Because of the change to the backup car, he had to abandon his starting position and drop to the rear at the start of Sunday’s race.
By the end of the second stage, Larson had raced his way to sixth before mounting his charge in the late going.
Unlike in previous years, when quirky circumstances took him out of the Playoffs, Larson could cite overall performance as the reason he didn’t advance to the Round of 8 this season.
“I’m actually glad that nothing stupid took us out of the Playoffs this year,” Larson said. “We had that battery come out at Dover a couple years ago. Blew up an engine here last year.
“Obviously, I would have liked to have made it into the next round. But I’m glad it wasn’t anything other than just us not performing where we needed to be that kept us out of the next round.
“Just trying to figure out how to make our cars better. Try to figure out this new package we’re running next year, try to be prepared, good all season long.”
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