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Closest Cup Series Finish Ever is Kyle Larson’s Victory at Kansas

On the last lap at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Larson passed Chris Buescher with great speed, slamming doors with him all the way to the finish line. However, his team announced over the radio that he had not quite given it his all.

It wasn’t until Turn 3 of the cool-down lap when Larson noticed Tyler Monn, his spotter, twirling above the track.

The No. 5 car was declared the winner by a thousandth of a second in the closest finish in NASCAR history, which was only officially confirmed by a blurry black-and-white photo at the finish line. This was an even more dramatic finish than the three-at-the-line ending to the Cup Series race at Atlanta earlier in the season. It was every bit as close as the Kentucky Derby the day before.

Larson remarked, “Had no clue if I won or not,” “but honestly didn’t really care. I was like, ‘Man, that was frickin’ awesome.'”

Not so great for Buescher’s crew, who had already started to celebrate prior to the formal announcement of the outcome. Scott Graves, his crew chief, requested a meeting in their hauler with NASCAR representatives. After seeing the photo of the finish line, he conceded the result.

Standing next to his No. 17 vehicle, Buescher shook his head and said, “I don’t know what to say right now.” “I haven’t seen a replay other than just the picture, and I sure can’t see in that picture. That sucks to be that close.”

A caution for Kyle Busch’s spin prompted the green-white-checkered finish, setting up an exciting conclusion. On the last lap’s backstretch, Larson had passed Buescher and passed him in the last corner. It appeared as though Buescher had taken the lead, and Larson had begun praising his squad for their impressive run to second place.

He was performing a joyous burnout on the front stretch a short while after that.

For Larson, who will try to race the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day over Memorial Day weekend, it was a fantastic start to a hectic May. Hendrick Motorsports’ second victory of the year came as a small consolation for his finishes second to Denny Hamlin at Dover last week and in the Kansas spring race a year prior.

On Sunday, Martin Truex Jr. came in fourth, while Hamlin, who had led going into the last restart, dropped back to sixth.

“Had a great view of the finish,”¬†Hamlin said.

Buescher was even more disappointed with his finish because he had overcome a significant error halfway through the race. A crew member went over the wall ahead of schedule just as he was winning the second stage and leading the pack on pit road. Buescher had to spend a significant portion of the last stage making his way back to the front after receiving the punishment.

In the end, Buescher’s group decided to use a different pit strategy than the leaders. Likewise, Hamlin’s squad, who had already weathered a fair amount of pit issues, did. And if the race had ended under green, it might have worked out for them both.

Rather, the leaders were compelled to pit due to the late caution, resulting in a historic finish in NASCAR history.

Later on social media, Buescher made light of the situation by joking that he could have won the race by copying a move from Pixar’s “Cars” movie.

“I mean, I’ll always remember this, for sure,” Larson remarked. “There’s definitely wins that you can kind of get lost in the distance a little bit, but when you finish and have the closest finish in Cup Series history, I don’t think you’re ever going to forget about it, even if it gets broken someday. Great to be on this side of it.”

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