A Kyle Larson without errors is very dangerous

What happened?

After a series of early-race yellows and a field of confusing strategies, Kyle Larson used newer tires to track Chris Buescher and Martin Truex Jr. to win the race on Sunday (June 9), his second victory in Sonoma Raceway. and third victory of the season.

Truex ran out of fuel on the final lap, so Michael McDowell took second while Buescher finished third. Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain rounded out the top five.

That Actually Happened?

In a race filled with errors, Larson remained perfect to cap a difficult course with a victory in wine country.

Sure, Larson has the ability to win every time he gets behind the wheel of a race car. But this season something seems different.

Larson (and the No. 5 team) aren’t making mistakes.

Last season, many pegged Larson as the championship favorite, especially after two wins earlier in the year. But a Jekyll and Hyde season for Larson included many mistakes that took him out of contention and ended his championship quest.

The self-sabotage began in May, when Larson had wins at Kansas Speedway and Darlington Raceway within reach before clashes with Denny Hamlin and Chastain. Hamlin thwarted another victory attempt at Pocono Raceway in late summer.

In the playoffs, Larson dominated at Texas Motor Speedway but crashed, ultimately leading to his elimination in the round of 16. After being knocked out, he had another victory within reach at Homestead-Miami Speedway until he crashed into the barrels on pit road.

Coming from the world of short dirt races, most of the criticism leveled at Larson revolved around his inability to put together a full race. He certainly improved from his rookie season in 2014, and the No. 5 team completed a full season in 2021, earning 10 wins and the championship.

But the Next Gen car has given Larson fits over the past two seasons. He has pushed hard, sometimes too much, as he had eight retirements in 2023.

This year, Larson has found a way to continue his performance while minimizing mistakes. On Sunday she even changed the script.

Squeezing Truex and Buescher, Larson made it to the three-car battle for the lead with just over 10 laps to go. With the Next Gen car, we see the guys seemingly sticking to their lines and minimizing mistakes.

But with Truex pushing Buescher hard, the No. 17 went wide in Turn 10. That led to a fun battle with Truex before the No. 19 finally managed to get by, taking Larson with him.

Almost immediately, Truex made his own mistake and relinquished the lead to Larson.

After giving up first place, Truex kept the pressure on Larson for a couple of laps. Larson may not have hit every corner perfectly, but he didn’t make any major mistakes, a change from past seasons.

He may not be on pace to win 10 more races, but Larson has been good, even perfect at times. Today’s drive from several seconds behind in a long green flag race showed how perfect this season has been when he has the faster car.

I know it’s a recurring theme every year, but after two seasons of constant mistakes, this could be the year Larson puts together another perfect season to capture championship number two.

Who stood out?

Aside from Larson completing an impressive drive with an unfavorable strategy and making the only pass on the track to take the lead, a few other drivers also had good performances.

Of course, we’d expect McDowell to run well on a road course, but today’s second place finish had its own barriers. Speaking of barriers, McDowell ended up in one in the second stage after getting caught in the final incident that brought out a yellow flag.

His strategy earned him track position, but he passed Kyle Busch and Buescher late to improve his finish.

After failing last week, Corey LaJoie had a pretty impressive run at Sonoma. His team failed in the strategy at Gateway, but the yellows played in his favor this week. On top of that, LaJoie made some passes to improve his finish and finished in 11th place.

Who fell?

Two guys had some impressive road course streaks that came to an end. An early error by Ty Gibbs prevented him from finishing the race.

Joking aside, both Gibbs and William Byron had three consecutive top-five finishes on road courses entering Sonoma. While Gibbs made a mistake on his own, Byron had a flat tire that affected his day. It looked like luck would be good for Byron, until Erik Jones and Josh Berry decided to remove the toe link from his right rear foot.

Better than last time?

While the race had a little too much chaos at the beginning, the overall race had a lot more fun and flavor than last year’s event, which was dominated by Truex.

Early warnings showed how much of a challenge the resurfacing was for the drivers, and it really affected the flow for the start of the race.

However, once things turned green, the race became boring. That is, until the pit stops were completed. Once the drivers with newer tires came out to battle the drivers with older tires, the real race began.

No matter who ends up winning, it’s always great to have a three-car battle for the lead at the end.

Race paint scheme.

From the side angle, Chase Briscoe’s new Ford Performance livery simply had a new look. But the hood and roof added another layer to the scheme, looking almost like a patriotic California surfboard.

When the entry list was released Monday, Brad Keselowski’s car had a “TOP SECRET” sticker. The plan was finally unveiled on Friday, and the Kings’ Hawaiian orange was transformed into a bright yellow, with some My favorite villain Minions hanging from the back of the car as a promotion for Despicable Me 4which hits theaters this summer.

The fire suits also contributed to the theme. Keselowski donned a fire suit designed after main character Gru’s suit, while his team No. 6 wore fire suits that resembled Gru’s beloved henchmen.

Whats Next?

The NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Iowa Speedway for the first time. The Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol is scheduled for Sunday, June 16 at 7:00 pm The night race begins the change of television networks, with this race beginning on USA Network.

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