Kyle Larson celebrates in his car and in victory lane after Sunday’s win (NASCAR)
Kyle Larson checked off two boxes Sunday night at sold out Darlington Raceway. He won the 74th edition of the Cook Out Southern 500 for his first career win at Darlington. And he clinched a spot in the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs. Larson took the lead for the only time on lap 313 from Tyler Reddick by beating him out of the pits and led the rest of the way.
Reddick, who led four times for 90 laps, battled Larson over the final 30 green flag laps as the two rode the high line near the wall around Darlington, but he could not catch him. He finished .0447 seconds behind. Chris Buscher came in third followed by William Byron and Ross Chastain. Playoff contenders filled seven of the top ten positions.
Denny Hamlin was dominant for much of the race, leading the most laps with 177 and winning the first two stages. But he pitted twice, the first time with the lead on lap 269, for what he thought was a loose wheel and lost track position he could not regain. He finished 25th.
Kevin Harvick also was a strong contender until he was penalized for entering the pits after the red light came on due to an incident on the track. Harvick had already committed to pitting and was about to cross onto pit road when the light came on. Harvick was running second at the time when Ryan Newman brought out the caution.