Kyle Larson’s playoff hopes in jeopardy after blown motor in Kansas

Matthew T. Thacker/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kyle Larson’s hopes to contend for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway may have just gone up in smoke.

Larson was running third during the opening stage of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 event when an apparent motor issue caused the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s No. 42 Chevrolet to slow on-track. Larson brought his machine to pit road for a lengthy stop, allowing the crew to diagnose the issue. He was then sent back on-track and told to “run it as long as you can.”

Shortly before the end of Stage 1, Larson’s machine finally gave out.

“Well it just dropped a cylinder 10 laps ago or so and then it suddenly got worse and finally blew up,” Larson said afterward. “I hate that we blew an engine and probably blew our shot at the championship, but luck is a big factor of our sport.”

Larson entered Sunday’s Round of 12 finale with a 29-point edge on ninth-place Kyle Busch and playoff elimination. The Californian’s early exit will result in a 39th-place finish, meaning he could give up as many as 59 points on Busch and the other drivers outside of the playoff bubble. His odds of playoff advancement will depend on the success or failure of the other playoff contenders.

“Obviously I’m going to watch and just cross my fingers and pray to anything I can pray to,” Larson said. “But, I don’t think 29 points is enough. So, it’s disappointing, but we’ve had a good year. I’ve got to thank Credit One Bank and Target and everybody that’s been involved. It sucks to have the engine failure, but it is what it is.”

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