A four-pack: Kyle Larson wins at Nashville for 4th straight win of 2021

Kyle Larson (5) competes during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kyle Larson (5) competes during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Kyle Larson won again.

Larson won the first Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday in dominating fashion for his third consecutive points race victory and his fourth consecutive Cup Series win.

Larson led over 260 of the race's 300 laps and was virtually unchallenged at any point throughout the race. While the caution-filled race featured many drivers who rotated in and out of the top 10, Larson was the constant at the front.

That's been the story of his spring and early summer so far. Larson has four points wins in the Cup Series and has been the fastest driver in the series even if he doesn't have the points lead. Larson backed up his wins in points races a week ago at the All-Star Race when he had the fastest car and won the exhibition event for the first time.

Hendrick Motorsports almost got a fifth-straight 1-2 finish but Ross Chastain passed William Byron for second in the waning laps. Byron was third.

"We never really had to run behind people, so I don't know," Larson said after climbing from his car about his car in traffic. "If one of my teammates got out front again, it would have been hard to pass them."

Aric Almirola finished fourth while his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick was fifth. Almirola won the pole for the race and it was a much-needed top five for Almirola after he's spent the entire season outside the top 25 in points.

Brake failures

Sunday's race featured NASCAR's higher horsepower (750 HP) and lower downforce rules combination at the 1.33-mile track. That meant drivers were using their brakes more than they typically do at bigger tracks where they have less horsepower and more downforce. And the race also featured multiple brake failures.

Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe and multiple others had brake problems during the race. Was the lack of downforce and increased horsepower a cause? Possibly. It's impossible to say for sure at the moment. But those brake failures helped contribute to 11 caution flags over the race's 400 miles.

The dream of 16 winners is disappearing

Every race Larson wins is one less opportunity for a first time winner in 2021 before the playoffs begin.

Seven drivers won the first seven races and 10 drivers won the first 11 races of the season. That victory lane parity made it seem possible that all 16 of the playoff drivers at the end of the season would have a win.

That’s probably not going to happen now. Chase Elliott has been the only first-time winner of the season since Martin Truex Jr. won his third race of the season at Darlington on May 9. And with Points leader Denny Hamlin and Harvick the only two drivers in the top 10 in the standings still looking for a win, it’s hard to see more than a few more new winners in 2021.

If three currently winless drivers win races before the playoffs begin then 14 drivers will have victories. That will leave two spots available for winless drivers via the points standings.

At the moment, those two drivers look likely to be Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick. The two Richard Childress Racing drivers are the fastest winless drivers outside the top 10.

Chase Elliott gets disqualified

Chase Elliott was disqualified after the race because his car had five loose lug nuts. He finished 13th and won the first stage but loses both the 13th-place finish and the stage win because of the disqualification.

The stage win would have been worth a point in the playoffs. He officially finishes last.

Race results

1. Kyle Larson

2. Ross Chastain

3. William Byron

4. Aric Almirola

5. Kevin Harvick

6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

7. Daniel Suarez

8. Kurt Busch

9. Christopher Bell

10. Joey Logano

11. Kyle Busch

12. Austin Dillon

13. Ryan Newman

14. Alex Bowman

15. Corey LaJoie

16. Michael McDowell

17. Anthony Alfredo

18. Tyler Reddick

19. Erik Jones

20. Bubba Wallace

21. Denny Hamlin

22. Martin Truex Jr.

23. Brad Keselowski

24. Matt DiBenedetto

25. Garrett Smithley

26. Josh Bilicki

27. JJ Yeley

28. BJ McLeod

29. Joey Gase

30. Cole Custer

31. Chase Briscoe

32. Ryan Preece

33. Chad FInchum

34. David Starr

35. Justin Haley

36. Chris Buescher

37. Ryan Blaney

38. Quin Houff

39. Chase Elliott

Points standings

1. Denny Hamlin, 684 points

2. Kyle Larson, 675

3. Chase Elliott, 629

4. William Byron, 605

5. Joey Logano, 577

6. Kyle Busch, 558

7. Martin Truex Jr., 541

8. Kevin Harvick, 516

9. Ryan Blaney, 510

10. Brad Keselowski, 489

11. Austin Dillon, 475

12. Alex Bowman, 469

13. Tyler Reddick, 416

14. Christopher Bell, 392

15. Chris Buescher, 392

16. Michael McDowell, 375

17. Kurt Busch, 366

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 347

19. Matt DiBenedetto, 344

20. Ross Chastain, 342

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