AP Photo/Nell Redmond
Talk about dominance on the track.
Kyle Larson won each of the four stages and took home the checkered flag in the longest race on the Cup Series circuit during an incredible performance in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
He held off Chase Elliott, William Byron and the rest of the field with a lack of significant drama at the end.
This race has been all about parity of late, as Ellen J. Horrow of USA Today noted Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were the only six active drivers who won this race in the past with Harvick and Truex each winning twice.
Truex also entered Sunday’s race with three victories in 2021, although Keselowski was the defending champion.
Keselowski won last year’s race in dramatic fashion in overtime after Elliott lost his late lead when Byron spun with a flat tire to impact the finish.
Larson took the early lead without any of that drama in the 2021 edition, coming off the pole position to set the initial pace. The start was not as clean for Ross Chastain, who was pushed to the back of the pack with a broken oil pump.
Larson cruised to a Stage 1 win from that position and led 89 of the first 100 laps while capturing his seventh series stage win.
He wasn’t done and took home the win in the second stage as well. It wasn’t quite as dominant with Elliott passing him for stretches, but Larson battled his teammate for the lead with a late push and took home an eighth series stage win.
The second stage was troubling for one of the marquee names, as Kurt Busch was forced out of the race with a mechanical issue when his car started smoking.
Larson continued to control the race with another victory in Stage 3, although Byron put up a fight and temporarily took the lead. Larson won it while the race was under caution because Ryan Newman hit a barrier.
That wasn’t the only issue, as Bubba Wallace was penalized for equipment interference as the cautions continued early in Stage 4. Truex also stalled with a flat tire, and the leaders had to deal with lapped traffic as they chased a victory.
Still, nothing stood in Larson’s way during a head-turning showing.