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May 6, 2024

Three Up, Three Down: Drivers in focus leaving Kansas

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Sunday’s 402-mile thriller at Kansas Speedway delivered the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history as Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher to the line by 0.001 seconds. It’s the second win of the year for Larson, who joins Denny Hamlin and William Byron as multi-time winners in 2024.

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos: Kansas

Kansas saw a handful of comers and goers out front throughout the day. Ross Chastain looked like a true contender for the race win early but didn’t have the speed when the lights came on at the 1.5-mile facility, ending up with a 19th-place finish.

Michael McDowell was caught up in a wreck early in the final stage but rallied for his third top 10 of the year.

As the Cup Series gets set for a three-week stint in the Carolinas, see which drivers are trending upward and in the wrong direction.


1. Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Kyle Larson in Victory Lane
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Started: 4th

Finished: 1st

What happened: Larson had the dominant car of the day. At one point, it looked like a slow pit stop might have cost the team a win, but on an overtime restart, the No. 5 was in prime position. Larson worked his way to the outside of Buescher on the final lap and beat him to the line by just an inch.

What’s next: Larson fans can only salivate right now thinking about what the No. 5 team’s next few weeks could look like. He’s the most recent winner at both Darlington and North Wilkesboro, which is where the Cup Series will be the next two weekends. After that, it’s off to attempt the Memorial Day weekend Sunday double with the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.

2. Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Truex climbs out of his car
Brittney Wilbur |

Started: 13th

Finished: 4th

What happened: Truex’s No. 19 woke up in the closing moments as he chased down the leaders, who were saving fuel, just before Kyle Busch spun to send the race to overtime. The 2017 champion took four tires on the final pit stop and rallied to secure a fourth-place finish. With consecutive top-five finishes and a worst result of 18th this season, Truex’s average finish is a whopping 8.9 – nearly a whole position better than next-closest Chase Elliott, who currently has a 9.7 average finish a third of the way through 2024.

What’s next: Even though he’s been winless through 12 races this year, there’s an argument to be made that he’s been the best Cup driver of the season. Truex could use a turnaround at Darlington next Sunday in the Next Gen car as he’s scored a best finish of just 18th in the last four races at “The Lady in Black.” However, Truex has a pair of Coke 600 trophies and finished third in the longest NASCAR event last season.

3. Alex Bowman, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Alex Bowman walks
James Gilbert | Getty Images

Started: 18th

Finished: 7th

What happened: Bowman picked up his third consecutive top-10 finish Sunday at Kansas. Starting midpack, Bowman ground his way to the quality result amid a slew of cautions in the final stage and took two tires on the final pit stop just before overtime to gain and hold track position when the checkered flag flew.

What’s next: Maybe flying under the radar isn’t what the No. 48 team wants with the other three Hendrick teams all winning already this year, but it feels like a win is imminent for Bowman. It may not come this month as he finished 33rd at Darlington last year and was just outside the top 10 in last year’s Coke 600, which marked his return to action last year after injury.


1. Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford

Logano drives at Kansas
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Started: 11th

Finished: 34th

What happened: Logano had a silent day before his spin in the final stage, spending just 10.5% of Sunday’s race inside the top 15, according to NASCAR Loop Data. A 34th-place result is the fourth consecutive finish outside the top 10 for the two-time Cup champion.

What’s next: A return to the Carolinas doesn’t bode well for the No. 22 either, as Logano was 18th and 21st at Darlington and the Coke 600 last year, respectively. However, the Team Penske stable always manages to find a gear in the summer so while a win may not be in the near future, don’t count out the defending-championship organization just yet.

2. Ross Chastain, No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet

Ross Chastain drives at Kansas
Alejandro Alvarez |

Started: 2nd

Finished: 19th

What happened: Halfway through Kansas, it appeared Chastain was in the mix to snag his first victory of 2024 after having hotly contested battles with Larson and Denny Hamlin for the lead. However, a strategy scramble amid caution after caution early in the final stage shuffled Chastain to midpack, and he wasn’t able to bring the No. 1 Chevy back to the front.

What’s next: Chastain’s last top-10 result came at COTA back in March but Darlington could turn it around for the Alva, Florida native. No. 1 finished fifth in last year’s Southern 500 and was battling for the win late in the spring Darlington race last year before a tangle with Larson.

3. Tyler Reddick, No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota

Tyler Reddick drives at Kansas
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

Started: 15th

Finished: 20th

What happened: From the drop of the green flag, it appeared 23XI missed their setups Sunday, as neither Reddick nor Bubba Wallace was in the mix at Kansas. Reddick was able to muster three points in Stage 2, but when the checkered flag flew, No. 45 was down in 20th on the final results sheet.

What’s next: A Talladega win did not get Reddick on a hot streak as he’s now finished outside the top 10 twice since then, but this should turn around when the Cup Series returns home to the Carolinas. Reddick was runner-up to Larson in last year’s Southern 500 and rounded out the top five in last year’s Coke 600.