After 400 miles at Kansas Speedway, it was Denny Hamlin who came out on top. But that wasn’t after a plethora of chaos on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin Calls His Shot
One month ago, on his podcast Actions Detrimental, Denny Hamlin called his shot when he said his #11 team would get white hot. His words came to fruition when he took his first Cup Series victory of 2023 in Kansas over the weekend. Hamlin came out on top after an intense race with Kyle Larson in the closing laps. A race that came to a head when the two made contact on the final lap, putting Larson into the wall on the backstretch and allowing Hamlin to cross the finish line first.
With strong runs at Martinsville and Dover, Hamlin has been a contender to win the last three non-superspeedway races. He also has four victories at Darlington, the next stop on the Cup Series schedule. Hamlin certainly sees the Month of May as an opportunity for his team to win some races and so far, he’s taking full advantage of it.
Ross Chastain Vs. Noah Gragson
The Ross Chastain cloud of controversy rolled into Kansas and swept up Noah Gragson when the two came to blows after the race. Gragson had an issue with how the two had raced on track and confronted Chastain on pit road after the race. Security separated the two drivers but not before Chastain was able to land a punch on Gragson.
From Noah Gragson’s point of view, this was the second time in three weeks that the two had an incident. Both times resulted in Gragson’s car hitting the wall. Most of the garage area feels like something had been coming to Chastain for a while now. Chase Elliott even encouraged Gragson afterward.
Noah Gragson might be the best driver suited to rival Chastain. He has a history of feuds with drivers in the past. He always speaks his mind and definitely knows how to put on a show for the camera. The Everyone side of the Ross Chastain vs. Everyone rivalry may have found its leader.
It’s going to take a lot for any NASCAR Cup Series race to top what we saw on Sunday in Kansas. In a race that had everything a race fan could ask for, The AdventHealth 400 will go down as an instant classic. This race set the record for most lead changes in a 400-mile race in NASCAR history. From the drop of the green flag, the racing at the front was fierce and side by side. The close racing led to a record amount of cautions. The amount of cautions lead to teams needing to be strategic on when they chose to change tires. There was a chase down for the win in the closing laps. At the end of the day, there was even a fight. Sunday’s race checked every single box on what makes the NASCAR Cup Series entertaining.
Was Kansas a good race? 93.3% of you said Yes.
— No. 9 race *ever* in the poll (out of 274).
— No. 1 race on a 1.5 mile track; No. 3 intermediate race out of 90 (missed No. 1 by 0.5%).
— First 90%+ race of 2023 (Fontana: 89.9%).
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) May 9, 2023
William Byron Fights Back From Three Laps Down
After starting the race from the pole, William Byron ended the first stage two laps down and in 34th place. He almost spun out twice, clipping the wall both times. It was starting to look like a miserable day for the #24 team but they were able to work their way back. Throughout the race, crew chief Rudy Fugle made adjustments to the car and by stage three Byron had a legitimate chance to win before finishing third. As a championship contender the ability to around a bad race is crucial and to say William Byron did that on Sunday is an understatement.