Larson leads a Hendrick 1-2 to make history (again) at Sonoma

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, wins the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 06, 2021 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Another week another Kyle Larson domination. Larson, who had only led 11 laps in his six previous starts at Sonoma, led a race high 57 of the 92 laps run to score the first road course victory of his career Sunday.

The win comes a week after he staged another dominating run at Charlotte Motor Speedway sweeping the stages and leading the most laps.

“It was not easy,” Larson said. “Any road course isn’t easy, just trying to keep it on track is tough; especially when you’ve got two of the best behind you on the last restart, Chase (Elliott) and Martin (Truex, Jr.).”

Larson had to survive three restarts in the closing laps including an overtime restart and in a mirror finish of last week, held off his teammate Chase Elliott to win by .614 of a second.

“I felt like I did a good job at the one before and stretched it out a little bit and didn’t want to give him another try at it,” Larson said of the final restart. “But (Elliott) kept the pressure on. Martin was strong too, but what a car.

“This is unbelievable. I thought I would be okay today, but I just didn’t know how I would race. I don’t think of us really do with no practice. But our car was really good there and I can’t say enough about it.”

Martin Truex Jr. who has three wins at Sonoma including winning the last two, was third.

“Our only hope was for it really to go green the rest of the race there in that third stage once we both pitted and we were one-two,” Truex said. “He (Kyle Larson) drove by me and he was just super fast for 10 laps. Our only chance was if the race would have gone green from there and I still don’t even know. He was really fast for 15 laps then obviously once we started getting all those cautions, we were toast. Definitely not what we needed.”

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

Larson started from the pole thanks to his Charlotte win and went on to sweep both stages. His nearest rivals all day, Elliott and Truex tried differing pit strategies, but in the end had nothing for Larson.

“We were solid today,” Elliott said. “Just not good enough at the right times.”

The 1-2 finish for Hendrick Motorsports tied a record with team owner Carl Kiekhaefer for four consecutive 1-2 finishes dating back to 1956.

The final caution of 8 on the day came out with two laps remaining in regulation to set up the final restart in overtime. Hendrick driver Alex Bowman got into the rear of Anthony Alfredo, who then careened into and spun Christopher Bell.

Bowman managed to survive to finish 9th. The fourth Hendrick driver William Bryon was swept up in a crash on lap 78 ending his day and giving him his first DNF since Martinsville last fall.

Kurt Busch was sixth with his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ross Chastain seventh. Denny Hamlin was eighth.

Larson from Elk Grove California became the first Northern California driver to win at Somona since Jeff Gordon in 2006.

“It means a lot,” Larson said. “Northern California will always be home to me, even if I live way out on the East Coast now. Thanks to all the fans for coming out. I know there’s a lot of Sprint Car fans in the stands and around this racetrack. I got to see a lot of my friends here today. I’ve got my family here. This is unbelievable.”

His second win of 2021 also marks the first time Larson has scored consecutive wins in the Cup series.

“To get back-to-back wins in the Cup Series is something I’ve always dreamed of doing and to get it done feels great,” Larson said. “To win last week on Memorial Day weekend, four in a row now, if you count my dirt racing too. And we’ve got a big week of racing coming up. I look forward to all that and just look forward to keeping the streak going.”

The Cup series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the annual non-points All-Star race next Sunday night.

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 06, 2021 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Toyota/Save Mart 350

Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma, California

Sunday, June 6, 2021

  1. (1)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 92.
  2. (2)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 92.
  3. (19)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 92.
  4. (13)  Joey Logano, Ford, 92.
  5. (5)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 92.
  6. (30)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 92.
  7. (29)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 92.
  8. (4)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 92.
  9. (7)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 92.
  10. (11)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 92.
  11. (18)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 92.
  12. (16)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 92.
  13. (6)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 92.
  14. (15)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 92.
  15. (9)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 92.
  16. (12)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 92.
  17. (25)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 92.
  18. (22)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 92.
  19. (10)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 92.
  20. (23)  Cole Custer, Ford, 92.
  21. (27)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 92.
  22. (8)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 92.
  23. (17)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 92.
  24. (20)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 92.
  25. (32)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 92.
  26. (35)  Scott Heckert, Ford, 92.
  27. (26)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 92.
  28. (21)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 92.
  29. (36)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 92.
  30. (31)  Ben Rhodes(i), Chevrolet, 92.
  31. (28)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 92.
  32. (34)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 92.
  33. (24)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 92.
  34. (37)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 84.
  35. (3)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 76.
  36. (33)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 69.
  37. (14)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Engine, 40.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  71.445 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 14 Mins, 42 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .614 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 18 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 1-9;D. Hamlin 10-11;K. Larson 12-21;K. Busch 22-27;W. Byron 28-32;K.

Larson 33-42;K. Busch 43-44;C. Elliott 45-57;K. Larson 58-64;J. Logano 65-66;K. Busch 67-68;K.

Larson 69-72;J. Logano 73-75;K. Larson 76-92.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson 6 times for 57 laps; Chase Elliott 1

time for 13 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 8 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 5 laps; William Byron 1

time for 5 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,9,18,19,48,3,8,1,21,43

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,22,48,1,9,24,18,2,11,20

Greg Engle