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June 16, 2024

Kyle Larson wrecks into Denny Hamlin after contact with Daniel Suárez at Iowa

Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway took a massive turn early in the final stage as Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez tangled on the frontstretch, collecting Denny Hamlin in the process.

The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Larson went three-wide in between Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford and Suárez’s No. 99 Chevy just before contact off Turn 4. The 2021 series champion skidded into the outside wall and into the path of Hamlin’s approaching No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

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Both Hamlin and Larson made multiple pit stops for repairs, and Larson’s No. 5 entry spent substantial time in the Cup Series garage after meeting the minimum speed requirement. Suárez continued for a ninth-place finish; Hamlin pressed on for a 24th-place result, two laps off the pace, and Larson was 36 laps down in 34th at the checkered flag.

Before the incident, Larson had led 80 laps after winning the pole for Sunday evening’s 350-lapper, and he won Stage 2.

“If I could see a replay, I would tell you what went wrong, if it was my fault or what,” Larson said on pit road post-race. “I mean, obviously if I don’t go three-wide there, there’s probably no crash but I’m probably running sixth into Turn 1 so, but either way sixth is better than crash. Yeah, I don’t know. Like I said, I think just, I should have been more aware of who I was around. Suárez is really aggressive, and I don’t know. He was probably just pushing and got loose, I’m guessing, underneath me.”

Suárez marked his first top-10 finish since mid-April at Texas Motor Speedway, a span of eight races ago. He noted that he initiated the contact, but also that he didn’t expect the action to tighten as much as it did exiting the track’s sweeping fourth corner.

“Honestly, during the race I was so confused, I didn’t know what happened,” Suárez told FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “I didn’t know if I went up or he came down. I just saw the replay for the very first time, and I noticed that the 6 (Keselowski) was the one that was on the outside, he had like a quarter of a car from the wall because he was trying to pinch down the 5 (Larson), and then the 5 had another quarter of a car to the 6, trying to pinch me down, and I was expecting those two guys to be closer to the wall like everyone else. I mean, I’m definitely … I’m the one that made contact with the 5, and I take responsibility for that, but I felt like they were lower than I was expecting.”

Fortunes were not the same for Hamlin as he dealt with handling issues from the start of the race and quickly fell off the lead lap before rallying with pit strategy to collect five points at Stage 2 checkered flag. The melee in front of him curtailed the comeback from 34th place at the end of Stage 2.

Contributing: Zack Albert | NASCAR