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Analysis: Penalty sets up must-win situation for Larson at Kansas

The 10-point penalty handed to the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team and driver Kyle Larson on Wednesday following an infraction at Talladega Superspeedway sets up one, and only one, scenario at Kansas Speedway — Larson must win to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Larson left Sunday’s race at Talladega 26 points below the cutline. While challenging, he may have been able to advance to the Round of 8 on points — and a little help from fellow playoff drivers’ race circumstances.

The penalty, which subtracted 10 points from the driver and 10 points from the owner after NASCAR deemed the team violated the Damaged Vehicle Policy, puts the No. 42 in a different situation.

RELATED: Read more on the penalty

Now entering Kansas 36 points below the cutline, Larson must win at a track where he’s never won before.

He’s come close, though. Larson’s last trip to the 1.5-mile Kansas resulted in a fourth-place finish after leading 101 laps, and he finished a career-best second in 2014. His most recent playoff run at Kansas, however, resulted in heartbreak for the No. 42 team, as his engine expired less than 100 laps into the race resulting in his elimination from the playoffs.

Larson will have his shot at NASCAR’s version of a buzzer-beater win on Sunday, when the series takes on Kansas for the Round of 12 finale (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

RELATED: Heartbreak at Kansas