The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who was eliminated from the playoffs after the round of 12 at Charlotte, was in scintillating form and completed a clean sweep of stage victories.
Despite a run-in with Martin Truex Jr. on the 246th lap of 267 as both entered the pits under yellow-flag conditions, Larson was able to reclaim the lead from Denny Hamlin on the restart and held off advances from AJ Allmendinger and then Ross Chastain over the final 16 laps. Larson ultimately held off Chastain by 1.261 seconds to claim the victory.
With the victory, Larson's #5 Hendrick Motorsports team advances to the owners' Championship 4 and Larson will have the opportunity in two weeks to win the owner’s title for his team.
“Definitely the best run we’ve had all year long. We’ve been capable of it I feel like many weekends, we just haven’t quite put it all together,” Larson said. “Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) gave a great speech this morning and got us all ready to go and focused and I did my best to keep it out of the wall. I got in the wall a few times but I could still make speed doing that.
“Amazing race car. I knew that that last run was going to be short enough where I was going to be in some sort of trouble there, but thankfully A.J. and Ross were racing hard behind me.
“Happy for our team, and we get to go race for an owner’s title in Phoenix in a couple weeks. We’re still technically not out of it. I can’t win the (driver’s) championship, but it means more to me to win it as a team. We’re going to go to Phoenix and try to get another championship.”
While the end of the race provided drama, Larson left little in doubt who had the best car much of the race.
Once he made his way into the lead for the first time on Lap 27, there were few who could contend with Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet. His intent was signalled throughout the early phases and at one point held more than nine-second lead, ultimately winning the first stage with an eight-second advantage over polesitter William Byron.
Larson then held the lead through the opening pitstops during the transition to Stage 2, and was barely threatened throughout as the middle portion of the race ended under a caution.
He faced more obstacles in the final stage, including losing the lead during the final round of green-flag pit stops due to an untimely caution produced by Tyler Reddick - and the run-in with Truex on his final pit stop when it appeared the Joe Gibbs Racing driver suddenly slowed dramatically in front of him.
Larson got into the rear of Truex’s #19 Toyota and spun him into his pit stall. Truex was able to complete his pit stop but lost several positions with the extended stop.
“I was just going behind him, and he had a hard left and was hard on the brakes at the same time, and I ran right in the back of him,” Larson said. “My team said he was late turning into his stall, but I don’t know. If it was my fault, I’m sorry. I don't think it was.”
Chastain had battled for the lead in search of a second win of the season, but ultimately fell short - but remained ahead of Allmendinger in third.
Regardless, Chastain closes in on top spot in the championship race, and will seek to cement his position in the Championship 4 depending on results at Martinsville.
Austin Dillon was fourth, with Brad Keselowski rounding out the top-five ahead of Truex and Hamlin.
Entering the final race of the semi-final round of the playoffs next weekend at Martinsville, the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of not advancing to the title race are Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe.
However, Hamlin is tight on points with Byron, who moved up into the top four despite finishing behind the #11 JGR Toyota driver.
Joey Logano is already locked into the Championship 4 thanks to his win last weekend at Las Vegas.
NASCAR Cup Homestead results - 267 laps
|6||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||3:05'27.919||4.203|
|15||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Chevrolet||3:05'33.286||9.570|
|24||Cole Custer||Ford||3:05'34.820||1 Lap|
|25||Noah Gragson||Chevrolet||3:05'35.928||1 Lap|
|26||Ty Dillon||Chevrolet||3:05'36.303||1 Lap|
|27||John Hunter Nemechek||Toyota||3:05'49.417||1 Lap|
|28||Justin Haley||Chevrolet||3:05'51.917||1 Lap|
|29||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||3:05'58.277||1 Lap|
|30||Erik Jones||Chevrolet||3:05'25.721||3 Laps|
|31||Todd Gilliland||Ford||3:05'27.361||3 Laps|
|32||J.J. Yeley||Ford||3:05'43.499||4 Laps|
|33||B.J. McLeod||Ford||3:05'30.259||5 Laps|
|34||Cody Ware||Ford||3:05'38.946||5 Laps|
|35||Tyler Reddick||Chevrolet||2:46'38.141||25 Laps|
|36||Chase Briscoe||Ford||1:45'28.798||107 Laps|
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