Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Larson Scores First Top Five with Hendrick Motorsports

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Homestead-Miami Speedway once again proved to be Kyle Larson’s natural habitat in NASCAR. Only this time, he was navigating the 1.5-mile circuit for Hendrick Motorsports.

In his third start with the team, Larson finished fourth in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 for his fourth career Homestead top-five.

While it wasn’t a race win yet again, Larson rebounded from a disappointing 30th place finish at the Daytona Road Course last Sunday.

In the closing laps, Larson was running in the top-three but the shot of catching teammate William Byron wasn’t in the cards. Instead, he had to fend off Martin Truex, Jr. and Tyler Reddick. The latter in particular because he was running laps nearly a second faster than the front runners.

When it was all set and done, Larson came up one spot shy of getting a top-three outing as Reddick and Truex were able to shut him out.

Nevertheless, Larson said it was an intense battle to the finish between those two drivers.

“I was just trying to take care of my tires and was just struggling on the long runs. We were loose for a majority of the race and in that last run, we actually got kind of tight,” said Larson, who led five laps.

“But I felt like being tight was better for my long runs than loose, just because I could be a little more confident. I would have liked to finish second, but those guys were better than me in the end and I just couldn’t hold them off. I hate that I gave up those spots. But it was a good day for the NationsGuard Chevy team.”

The top-five showcased that Larson hasn’t skipped a beat as far as performance was concerned. It was his best outing since his return to the sport as a fourth at Phoenix last March was his last top-five result.

As for the No. 5 car, it’s their first top-five finish since Kasey Kahne scored his final Cup win at Indianapolis in 2017.

With the Florida triple weekend over, Larson is currently eighth in the championship standings, trailing Denny Hamlin by 42 points.

The next two races will head West, beginning with Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. In nine previous starts in “Sin City,” Larson has finished in the top-five three times. Two of those were runner-up finishes in Spring 2017 and Fall 2018.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography ranging from Idaho athletics to auto racing with ambitions of having his work recognized.