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Larson was leading late last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when a late-race caution sent the race into overtime. Larson’s HMS teammate, William Byron, beat him off pit road and then passed leader Martin Truex Jr. before holding off Larson for the win.
Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, after Larson and Byron had dominated much of the race, Kevin Harvick appeared headed to victory when a late-race caution sent everyone down pit road.
This time, Larson came out first as he and Byron both took two new tires while Harvick was the first driver with four new tires and lined up seventh.
Another wreck on the restart sent the race into overtime and Byron – thanks to a push from Tyler Reddick – got around Larson with one lap to go and held off Ryan Blaney for his second consecutive victory.
Larson, the 2021 series champion, tried to take the outcome in stride but remained frustrated.
“We got lucky with the one caution, and the team made a great call to take two tires and get us out in the lead. Restarts are just tough,” he said. “I felt like I ran William up pretty high and expected him to lose some grip, but he did a really good job of holding it to my outside and clearing me down the back.
“Yeah I’m (expletive) but a great fight by the team, a great car and way better than we were here last year. It’s a long season, but hopefully we’re in the final four when we come back here in November and can have a run similar to that with speed and try to execute a little bit better in the end.”
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images
Larson said he thought he drove in far enough on the restart to overtime to get Byron loose in the upper groove, but he was also challenged by Ryan Blaney going to his inside and making it briefly three-wide.
“I think that top lane just got a little bit better the last 50 laps or so. I didn’t run in far enough and ended up getting beat,” Larson said.
“It’s a bummer, but William again executed the last two races a little bit better than I did. Congrats to him and their team. We’ll try to keep these good runs up.”
Larson nearly capped off a perfect weekend on Sunday. He was fastest in practice on Friday, fastest in the first round of qualifying on Saturday and won the pole for Sunday’s race. He also led the most laps (201).
He’s finished second and fourth in the last two races and led a combined 264 laps and now fifth in the series standings.