FORT WORTH – Kyle Larson’s NASCAR Redemption Tour Added $ 1 Million Salary Sunday Night at Texas Motor Speedway, where stock car racing’s most prominent driver won the 37th annual NASCAR All-Star Race .
Larson, of Hendrick Motorsports, extended his winning streak in the NASCAR Cup Series to three in the scoreless event after a late-race duel with Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski. Larson took the lead from Keselowski on lap 93 of the scheduled 100 with a passage through turns 1 and 2 of the 1.5 mile TMS oval.
Larson’s margin of victory was 0.206 seconds, with Chase Elliott – the 2020 All-Star Champion and Larson HMS teammate – finishing third. Elliott’s team leader Alan Gustafson led a team that made the fastest stop and took home a bonus of $ 100,000. Penske’s Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney completed the top five in fourth and fifth respectively.
“I never imagined myself winning this race today,” said Larson, driver of the # 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro prepared by team leader Cliff Daniels. “Absolutely. Honestly, I can’t believe it. That second round there, we were really bad and I was like, ‘Man, we’re in trouble.’ I went back that round so I was like we have an uphill battle.
“Cliff and everyone are working so hard on this thing and made good adjustments throughout the first, second and third laps and got us in position.”
Elliott, the defending Cup champion, seemed to have finally solved the TMS conundrum when he won the fifth round, the 30-lap segment that included the mandatory four-tire stop.
“This last reboot worked exactly as I needed it to,” Larson said. “I wanted Chase not to have a good backstroke run. Fortunately, I think No. 12 [Ryan Blaney] got to its interior. I just shoved him in the back and he probably thought I was going to follow him. I thought there had to be enough grip above where we had run for a turn. It was a little slippery up there, but I was able to grab it and hold it from there. I can not believe it.
Larson, 28, got into the race after winning last Sunday at the Sonoma, Calif. Raceway and the weekend before in the 600 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Yeah, it’s like running right behind the Hendrick cars right now is kind of an accomplishment,” said Keselowski, driver of the No.2 Ford Mustang Discount Tire. “They’re just dumb fast. I took it out of turn 4 but they have so much speed. He just drove past me in the car – damn it!
“But it feels like a first class day. [Crew chief] Jeremy Bullins and the team did a great job of execution and set-up. We just didn’t have enough speed to get the most out of it, but have a good day running and I’m proud of it.
Larson, who won the 2019 All-Star Race on the 1.5-mile sister oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, was fired by team owner Chip Ganassi at the start of the 2020 season after being checked in by train utter a racial insult during an iRacing event. Larson has spent the COVID-19 season frolicking – and winning – on dirt roads across the country. Team owner Rick Hendrick hired Larson in October to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet paired with two-time “Texas” Cup champion Terry Labonte and Ricky Hendrick, Rick’s late son.
“My God, as soon as I took the lead I could feel my foot shaking,” said Larson, who has finished in the top five three times in five All-Star Race appearances. “It means a lot to win but I don’t know where to put it. “
Hendrick Motorsports earned his record-breaking 10th All-Star race victory and his second in a row. Larson is the eighth driver to win the All-Star Race more than once, joining Jimmie Johnson (4), Dale Earnhardt (3), Jeff Gordon (3), Davey Allison (2), Kevin Harvick (2), Mark Martin (2) and Terry Labonté (2).
The first NASCAR All-Star Race at TMS was the final event in the 25-year tenure of TMS President and CEO Eddie Gossage.
As promised by Gossage, the pilot presentations featured an “Old Western” theme linked to Fort Worth. Each driver walked through a replica wooden facade and a set of swinging ‘bar room’ doors before descending the steps to meet his crew as they pushed their race car into position. And sure enough, a group of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders smiled and waved their, uh, pom poms in approval.
As the peloton completed a long series of warm-up laps, rocker Sammy Hagar sang a live rendition of his signature hit – “I Can’t Drive 55” – from a perch among fans in the front stand. Hagar was accompanied by guitarist Vic Johnson.
“Put the pedal to the coin!” Hagar yelled after hitting his last chord – and the race went green on a whirlwind start. Preliminary races for the 50-lap All-Star Open began shortly after 5 p.m., with the track temperature reaching 145 degrees.
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