Kyle Larson wins Kansas in NASCAR's closest-ever finish: 3 takeaways on the Cup race

Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher at the line Sunday night at Kansas Speedway, delivering NASCAR's closest-ever finish in overtime.

Buescher was followed by Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. The top four drivers finished within 0.075 seconds of each other.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s race:

MORE: Kansas Cup results

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1. Making NASCAR history

The 2024 Cup season delivered a three-wide photo finish in only the second race, Atlanta. Daniel Suarez beat Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch by 0.003 seconds in what was the third-closest finish in NASCAR history.

Sunday night's race at Kansas surpassed this finish. Buescher and Larson were separated by .001 seconds at the line and at first, it appeared that Buescher was the victor. However, NASCAR's replay showed the No. 5 Chevrolet ahead by the slimmest of margins.

NASCAR's previous record for the closest-finish was set back in March 2003. Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch traded the lead over the final two laps but were side by side coming to the line. No one knew who had won the race but NASCAR's timing showed Craven as the leader by .002 seconds.

This record stood for more than 20 years. Sunday night, Larson and Buescher broke the record and capped off a fascinating event at Kansas Speedway.

"I didn't know if we won or not," Larson told Fox Sports' Jamie Little. "I was pumped for the finish. I can't remember if it was Cliff (Daniels) or Tyler (Monn), my spotter, said that the 17 got it, and I was like, 'Hey, good job today, team, because that was a great race.'

"Then I got to about Turn 3 and Tyler was going crazy up on the roof. Just incredible, incredible finish there."

The win at Kansas is the start of a historic month for Larson. He will close out the month by attempting to complete the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double that requires completes all 1,100 miles in one day.

Of course, Larson first has to compete for wins at Darlington and North Wilkesboro (All-Star Race), two tracks where he won last season.

"Month of May is going to be great for us, so hopefully this just starts some momentum," Larson said.

2. Hope for Ford Performance

Ford Performance entered Kansas weekend looking for its first national NASCAR series win. The manufacturer went winless in Truck and Cup but saw glimpses of a brighter future on Sunday, courtesy of multiple drivers.

Noah Gragson started inside the top 10 and scored points in the first two stages. He went toe-to-toe with Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick and multiple other drivers.

Gragson fell outside the top 10 after three different pit strategies unfolded in the final stage but he worked his way back to a ninth-place finish. Fellow Ford driver Michael McDowell overcame a wreck to finish 10th, his first career top 10 at Kansas.

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Buescher delivered the biggest moments for Ford. He headed to Kansas with no top-five finishes in Cup at 1.5-mile tracks. He then went out and won stage 2.

Buescher received a penalty for too many crew members over the wall that dropped him to the rear of the field for the start of the final stage but he overcame it and put himself back in contention for the win. Buescher closed out the day with his first top-five finish on a 1.5-mile track.

"The speed is good," Buescher told Fox Sports. "Wins are better. Need to be in that situation again. Need some trophies. Need some checkered flags and put ourselves in a much better spot."

If the Ford teams can continue showing these same signs of progress at Darlington, Charlotte and other intermediate tracks, there will be opportunities to snap that winless streak.

3. Two teams continue to dominate

Cup teams have completed 12 races this season. Two teams have won 10 of these races.

Hendrick Motorsports has accounted for six wins between William Byron (three), Larson (two) and Chase Elliott (one). Joe Gibbs Racing has won four races with Denny Hamlin (three) and Christopher Bell (one).

Tyler Reddick of 23XI Racing and Daniel Suarez of Trackhouse Racing are the only other drivers to celebrate a Cup win this season.

Sunday's race continued this stretch of dominant performance for the two organizations. Hendrick Motorsports had three cars in the top seven. Joe Gibbs Racing had three cars in the top 10. RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing each had one car inside the top 10.

There are now 14 races remaining in the regular season. The opportunities to win and reach the playoffs are decreasing in number.

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Stage 1 winner: Denny Hamlin

Stage 2 winner: Chris Buescher

Who had a good race: NASCAR fans witnessed a stage 1 featuring 10 official lead changes at the start-finish line and several others over the course of the laps. The field then went five-wide at the start of stage 2. The drivers closed out the race by delivering the closest finish in NASCAR history. ... Christopher Bell finished sixth, his first top-10 finish since Richmond in March. ... Noah Gragson finished ninth. This was his third consecutive top-10 finish and his fifth of the season. ... Chase Elliott finished third, his fifth time finishing fifth or better in the last six races.

Who had a bad race: John Hunter Nemechek had three different miscues on pit road — two speeding penalties and a slide through his pit stall. ... Chase Briscoe qualified 10th. He fell to 33rd by the end of stage 1 and fell one lap down in stage 2. He ended the day 21st. ... Jimmie Johnson was involved in a four-car crash at the start of the final stage. He finished 38th. ... Austin Cindric crashed and finished 37th. He has not finished better than 15th since Atlanta, the second race of the season.

Notable: Denny Hamlin took the lead from Kyle Larson late in stage 1. He officially led at least one lap for 16 consecutive Cup races. This set a career-best mark for Hamlin.

Next: Cup teams return to action May 12 to close out Throwback Weekend (3 p.m. ET on FS1).