Kyle Larson’s dominant run ends in dramatic fashion


LONG POND, Pa. – One more corner, and Kyle Larson would’ve entered an impressive club.

Saturday at Pocono Raceway, Larson was on the verge of becoming the ninth driver – and first since 2007 – to earn four consecutive points victories.

Of the eight drivers that have pulled off the feat, seven are NASCAR Hall of Famers. The outlier, Harry Gant, was no slouch himself.

Instead, Larson’s left-front tire blew and sent him into the Turn 3 wall on the final lap, handing the win to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman.

As a result, Larson will start from the rear in a backup car for Sunday’s second race of the Cup doubleheader weekend (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“I didn’t know if I was out of fuel or something,” Larson told reporters when asked if he had any warning prior to the tire failure. “Then it finally shredded shortly before I got into (Turn) 3.

“Huge bummer. But we had another fast car and feel like we all did a really good job today executing again perfectly. We just had a tire let go.”

As Larson’s backup car was being prepared in the garage, his crew chief, Cliff Daniels, looked over the failed left-front tire with Goodyear personnel.

“There’s a couple spots on the tire where, through like the outer portion of the tread, it’s got a cut through it,” Daniels told NBC Sports. “And the tire is so destroyed that we can’t tell if the cut went through the whole thing.

“Also, the sidewall of the tire is really chewed up but nobody had sidewall issues all day, so I would be hard-pressed to say it’s a sidewall issue. The tire was destroyed and we ran, you know, the length of the front straightaway with a destroyed tire.

“So, we don’t have a conclusion. I think it’s probably one of those cuts that we saw. We just can’t find it the whole way through.”

Before the tire failure, it appeared that Larson would come out on top again despite being markedly less dominant than he has since mid-May.

Larson felt that Kyle Busch (led race-high 30 laps, finished second) and William Byron (led 13 laps, finished third) were initially “quite a bit better” than he was. But by the end of the second stage, he felt he had the fastest car in the field.

Bowman proved to be his biggest challenge of the day. He took the lead with 19 laps to go. Shortly afterward, Larson moved into second.

Thus began the game of cat and mouse.

“When I got to second, I thought that I would pass Alex fairly easy just because I was a lot better than him the run before,” Larson said. “But it seemed like in clean air, his car was really good. I just couldn’t get by him.

“So, I got a little deflated. Then there was moments again where I was like ‘I’m gonna get him now’ and I exited with him off the tunnel (turn) getting in (turn) 3, and then he got better in the tunnel (turn) and I got worse.”

But with three laps to go, Larson found his opportunity.

“He got really tight off of (Turn) 1, and I was still turning good enough to where I could get runs on him,” he said. “So, I was able to get him to adjust his entries a little bit and mess his angles up on exit. Then, I got the run I needed finally.”

And that was seemingly that. Until it wasn’t. Larson, a racer’s racer, knows anything can happen.

“That’s how racing goes sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re lucky. I’ve won races where the leaders had a lapper spin in front of him late or something’s happened. It’s just the way it goes.”

As for his crew chief, Daniels was glad that he and his team’s next opportunity was coming in one day instead of seven.

“Any time you don’t have things go your way, you certainly want to get back on the horse and ride again,” he told NBC Sports. “That day is tomorrow.”

Sonoma Xfinity starting lineup: Kyle Larson wins pole


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson will start on the pole for Saturday’s inaugural Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson won the pole with an average speed of 91.393 mph around the 1.99-mile road course. Justin Allgaier joins Larson on the front row after a lap of 90.562 mph. Sheldon Creed (90.429 mph) qualified third. Aric Almirola (90.375) will start fourth. AJ Allmendinger (90.274) will start fifth.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity starting lineup

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Larson is one of seven Cup drivers entered. The others are Almirola (starting fourth), Allmendinger (fifth), Ty Gibbs (seventh), Ross Chastain (15th), Daniel Suarez (17th) and Ty Dillon (32nd).

The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.

Could Daytona International Speedway host NFL games?


The president of Daytona International Speedway says track officials plan to speak with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars about hosting the team’s games if Jacksonville’s stadium is renovated.

The Jaguars will need a temporary home site if plans go forward to renovate the team’s stadium. Daytona International Speedway has been mentioned as a possible candidate. The Jaguars released details Wednesday of what the stadium will look like after the renovation project.

Provided the project is approved by the city of Jacksonville, it is believed the Jaguars would need to find another home site for a couple of seasons while work is being done to its stadium. Daytona International Speedway is among possible sites for the Jaguars to play. More than 100,000 people saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win this year’s Daytona 500.

“Daytona International Speedway is a world-renowned sports and entertainment venue and hosts a full schedule of events each year,” said Frank Kelleher, president of Daytona International Speedway, in a statement. “As good neighbors in the Florida sports community, DIS will be speaking with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if we can assist them with their potential upcoming facility needs around our scheduled events.”

Daytona International Speedway hosted Soccer Fest in July 2022. An announced crowd of 7,573 fans saw the Orlando Pride and Racing Louisville play in a National Women’s Soccer League game at Daytona.

NASCAR displays counterfeit part from Chase Briscoe car


SONOMA, Calif. — NASCAR displayed the counterfeit part from Chase Briscoe‘s car on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway, showing how the part did not correspond to what should have been in the car.

NASCAR found the issue at its R&D Center after last month’s Coca-Cola 600. The sanctioning body fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him for six races. NASCAR also docked Briscoe and the team 120 points and 25 playoff points for the L3 infraction.

“We want to be transparent on the penalties,” said Brad Moran, managing director of the Cup Series as he displayed the counterfeit part to media.

Moran displayed a a portion of the engine panel from Briscoe’s car. He noted the engine duct was counterfeit. He said the proper pieces are 3D printed at the R&D Center and Fiberworks Composites sells them and installs them for teams. Moran said the duct is “in the bottom of the car under the engine panel. It’s to help cool the driver. It was added prior to the first race. During testing … we realized we wanted to get heat out of the engine compartment, and that’s what this piece does.”

Moran noted that with the counterfeit part, “we can clearly see the textures are different (from the proper part).”

He displayed what officials call a gauge that determines if the duct fits the proper parameters. He showed it fitting a proper duct and not properly fitting in the counterfeit part.

“It was a part that was made, and it was made for whatever reason,” Moran said. “It was, I guess, put on by error, but it was on the vehicle. It is a piece that should not have been made in the first place, and it was spotted at our teardown at the R&D Center.”

Moran said the issue was found in a visual inspection of the part. NASCAR inspected it further and Moran said “there are certain little characteristics that are in (a proper piece)” that officials did not see in the one on Briscoe’s car. “The more we examined it, the more we realized that’s not a part they bought.”

Moran noted that while the penalties were severe, they could have been worse based on the rulebook.

“It was the low end of the L3,” Moran said. “It’s a real big hit for any team. If it continues, and we feel we are not where we need to be, unfortunately, it’s going to ramp up. We’re not going to stop.

“The deal with this car is it needs to be run without modifying. It costs teams a lot of money in development. All the owners agreed. We all agreed where we need to be to make this a successful program, and we’re not going to give up.”



Sunday Cup race at Sonoma Raceway: Start time, TV info, weather


The Cup Series heads to wine country to compete on the 1.99-mile road course at Sonoma Raceway. This race leads into the final off weekend of the season. After the break, the series races 20 consecutive weekends. NBC and USA will broadcast those races.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Adam Devine will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:50 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting is at 2:45 p.m. … Driver intros are at 3 p.m. … Earl Smith, pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, will give the invocation at 3:30 p.m. … Tiffany Woys will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 110 laps (218.9 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 55.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. … Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and switches to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees and a 1% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Daniel Suarez won his first career Cup race last year at Sonoma. Chris Buescher finished second. Michael McDowell placed third.


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Drivers to watch at Sonoma Raceway 

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