NASCAR Rundown: Larson wins on sentimental day for Hendrick, Bristol Dirt on horizon
Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023
By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer
On what would have been Rick Hendrick’s son Ricky Hendrick’s 43rd birthday, Kyle Larson drove the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet to victory lane at Richmond Raceway on April 2. Larson drove the same paint scheme that Hendrick made famous in the early 2000s to secure his first win of the 2023 season. Hendrick tragically passed away on Oct. 24, 2004 in an airplane accident.
Larson and Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron raced hard towards the front all day, and Martin Truex Jr. was a factor as well before Truex ran out of fresh tires to put on during the last pit stop. With 30 laps to go, the caution came out and Larson’s pit crew got him out first, and the 2021 series champion did the rest on his way to the win.
“We’ve been close to winning a couple,” Larson said to Fox Sports after the race. “It’s really cool. We’ve been close to winning a couple (this year).”
Josh Berry, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliot, secured his best career NASCAR Cup Series finish of second after a late gamble on pit strategy. Him and sixth-place finisher Michael McDowell both elongated their fuel run in hopes of catching a caution flag late, and it worked out.
“When we got some clean track, we weren’t running bad lap times,” Berry said on pit road with Fox Sports after the race. “I’m so glad they tried something different to get us there at the end. … To come here and start in the back, no practice, qualifying, get spun out, work through the field like that … it’s pretty cool.”
The race did not go over without some tempers flaring. Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain and Byron came together with 20 laps to go that sent Byron for a spin, and a dismal 24th place finish. Other drivers came together as well during the race in multiple bump-and-run scenarios.
While verbal jabs were thrown after the race, there were no altercations outside of that. As it seems like every week someone is having an issue with someone else, it should not be any different as the drivers hit the dirt in Bristol, Tennessee on April 9.
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings
*denotes race win
- William Byron **
- Kyle Larson *
- Joey Logano *
- Tyler Reddick *
- Kyle Busch *
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. *
- Alex Bowman +105
- Ross Chastain +101
- Christopher Bell +71
- Kevin Harvick +69
- Martin Truex Jr. +40
- Brad Keselowski +38
- Ryan Blaney +30
- Denny Hamlin +30
- Austin Cindric +17
- Chris Buescher +6
- Daniel Suarez -6
- Michael McDowell -8
- Corey Lajoie -9
- Ty Gibbs -17
The Starting Grid
Food City Dirt Race
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway is a 0.533-mile concrete oval with 24-28 degrees of banking in Bristol, Tennessee
When: April 9 at 6 p.m.
Stages: 100-100-50 (250 laps, 133.25 miles)
Last Year’s Winner: Kyle Busch
Also This Week: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be at Bristol as well for the Weather Guard Truck Race On Dirt on April 8 at 7 p.m.
A Note: Opened in 1961, ‘The Last Great Colosseum’ has put its spring race on dirt the past two seasons. Joey Logano won the first race on the dirt in 2021, before Kyle Busch capitalized on a last-lap wreck to secure the 2022 dirt win. Darrell Waltrip holds the most cup series wins at the track with 12, on dirt or concrete.