Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington will be remembered for a couple of things, including Martin Truex Jr.’s win and a lot of carnage at the “Track Too Tough to Tame.” Another lasting impression will be what happened late in the race when Kyle Larson pulled off a daring move where he threaded the needle and drove his car right between Ryan Newman and Tyler Reddick in the corner.
The announcers audibly squirmed as Larson made the move and lauded him once he successfully completed it. It quickly became a trending video on social media. Larson addressed the move with the media this week and surprised reporters when he admitted that he closed his eyes right in the middle of pulling it off.
Kyle Larson starts 2021 season strong, including a win at Vegas
Kyle Larson started 2021 like someone who understandably wanted to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. The 28-year-old jumped into his new ride with Hendrick Motorsports this season and looked like a man on a mission.
After a 10th place finish at the Daytona 500, Larson struggled on the Daytona road course before rebounding with a solid fourth-place finish at Homestead. Then, in week four at Las Vegas, Larson made it to victory lane for the first time since 2019.
Since that early-season win, Larson has produced four top-10s, including a couple of runners-up at Atlanta and Darlington. However, it hasn’t been all good for the No. 5 car with a 29th on the Bristol dirt, where he was a pre-race favorite, and a disappointing 40th at Talladega.
Threads the needle late in the race in pursuit of Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. set the pace during Sunday’s race at Darlington, winning the first two stages and leading 248 of the 293 laps for the entire day. However, during the final stage, Larson made his presence known and closed the gap on Truex as the pair began to navigate through lapped traffic.
With eight laps to go and less than a second behind Truex, Larson pulled off a move that brought race fans watching at home and in the grandstands to the edge of their seats. After Truex made his way around Ryan Newman and Tyler Reddick, Larson pulled up behind the two cars that were now side-by-side and heading into the turn.
As Reddick hugged the wall, Newman dipped down low in the corner, opening up just enough space for Larson to shoot through the middle if he had the nerves to try it. Boy, did he ever.
“Whoa, Kyle!” Fox’s Mike Joy said as Larson’s car nudged in between the two cars that were battling for the lucky dog pass.
“Take it easy,” Clint Bowyer warned before following with, “Yee-haw!” as Larson’s car successfully slipped through.
Kyle Larson reveals shocking detail of move at Darlington
Kyle Larson addressed the media on Tuesday and one reporter asked his thoughts before he made the move and what went through his mind as he threaded the needle.
“Well, my thought process was if I didn’t pass at least one of them that corner I wasn’t going to ever have a shot to get back to Martin. Newman kind of pulled down really low, and Reddick entered on the top. I saw a hole, and kinda closed my eyes and shot through it. Thankfully, came out the other side.”
Larson said while it was unquestionably a high-risk move, he had no other options at the late juncture in the race.
“It was just the move I felt like I had to make to give myself a shot to win. Ultimately, even making that move, I still wasn’t able to get to Martin. Had I not, I definitely would have had zero hope of trying to contend for the win there in the final eights laps or so.”
Kyle Larson hasn’t earned seven top-10s in a dozen races by accident. His aggressive style and fast HMS car have proven to be a successful combination early in the 2021 season. Larson proved in Sunday’s race at Darlington on one of the toughest tracks in NASCAR that he’s a contender for the championship, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win it.