NASCAR Cup race ends with photo finish at Kansas Speedway

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag over Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Castrol Edge Ford, to win the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 05, 2024 in Kansas City, Kansas. Chase Elliott (9) finished third, and Martin Truex Jr. (19) finished fourth. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson beats Chris Buescher in the closest finish in NASCAR history

KANSAS CITY, KS – It was worth the wait.

In the closest finish in NASCAR history, Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher to the finish line by 0.001 seconds to win Sunday night’s rain-delayed Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway.

In a two-lap, green-white overtime race to the checkered flag, Larson caught up to Buescher coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap, and then it was a drag race to the finish line.

The two banged doors twice down the backstretch, allowing Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. into the mix for a four-wide, pedal-to-the-floor thriller.

After crossing the line side-by-side, Buescher’s team began to celebrate.

Then Larson’s team started its own celebration.

After a NASCAR review, Larson was given the victory by the slimmest margin ever – his second win of the year and 25th of his NASCAR Cup career. It was also Hendrick Motorsports sixth win of the 2024 season and ninth win at Kansas Speedway, breaking a tie with Joe Gibbs Racing for most ever at the speedway.

Kyle Larson (5) pulls away from Chris Buescher (17), Chase Elliott (9), and Martin Truex Jr. (19) after winning in a photo finish Sunday night in the AdventHeaalth 400 at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

Kyle Busch was in the hunt as the race neared its end.

Busch was in fourth place when he spun out on Lap 261, bringing out the seventh caution, and sending the race into overtime.

Buescher took the lead on the restart but Larson got even, setting the stage for the final lap drama.

“That was wild,” said Larson,” “I was obviously thankful for that caution. We were dying pretty bad. Was happy to come out third (out of the pits), and figured my best shot was to choose the bottom and try and split three-wide to the inside.

“Worked out my car turned well and was able to get some runs. Got through (Turns) 1 and 2 really good down the backstretch and had a big tow on Chris, and got him to kind of enter shallow, and I just committed really hard up top.

“Wasn’t quite sure if we were going to make it out the other side. I got super loose in the center, and then we’re just trying to… I’m trying not to get too far ahead of him to where he can side draft, and then I was just trying to kill his run. It was crazy.

Kyle Larson celebrates in Victory Lane after winning Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

“The race from start to finish was amazing. You guys (in the stands) got your money’s worth today. I was proud to be part of the show.”

“That sucks to be that close,” said Buescher, who overcame a penalty for a pit crew member over the wall too soon during the Stage 2 break. “It was a great finish for us, a really strong day. A lot of speed in this Ford Mustang, and we really needed that. Needed a win more, and I thought might have had that one. 

“Had a lot of speed there firing off. We were really good really all day, and really proud of that. Had some good strategy to get us back up there and tried to cover what I could and gave him half a lane too much, I suppose, but good hard race right there down to the line. But, yeah, it just hurts.”

Elliott, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, finished third 0.059 back, with Truex fourth 0.075 behind the winner.

Denny Hamlin, who led a race-high 71 laps, finished fifth, followed by pole-sitter Christopher Bell, Hendrick driver Alex Bowman, Busch, Noah Gragson, and Michael McDowell.

The race – scheduled for 267 laps (it went 268) over the Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile D-shaped track – was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Central Daylight Time. A persistent, light rain put a damper on that.

The rain eased, the jet dryers came out and the race was finally able to get underway at 5:25 p.m.

The race had 10 different leaders and 27 lead changes.

There was plenty of action through the race’s first two stages, which went off caution-free.

Ross Chastain took the lead away from Bell on the first lap and then battled Denny Hamlin and Larson until the end of Stage 1 with Hamlin winning the stage, Chastain finishing second, followed by Larson, Bell, and Buescher.

Hamlin then got boxed in by Austin Hill during the between-stage pit stops, dropping back to 11th.

Larson took control at the beginning of Stage 2, but a slow green flag pit stop sent him back to eighth and allowed Tyler Reddick to move out front.

Then it was Buescher’s turn to power his way into the lead, chased by Busch.

Austin Dillon (3) crosses the finish line after spinning on the final lap of overtime during Sunday’s Cup race. Dillon finished 25th, right behind Carson Hocevar (77) in 24th. Corey Heim (43) finished one lap ahead of both in 22nd while substituting for the injured Erik Jones. Photo by David Barks.

Larson, meanwhile, worked his way up to third, and then second.

Buescher won Stage 2, with Larson second, Hamlin third, Busch fourth, and Truex fifth.

Stage 3 was an entirely different story with four quick cautions between Laps 175 band 192.

A three-car wreck on Lap 175 ended seven=time champion Jimmie  Johnson’s day (in 38th place(

A four-car pileup on Lap 184 ended Austin Cindric’s evening.

Harrison Burton spun out on Lap 192, bringing out another yellow flag.

On 197, Joey Logano had to get off the gas to avoid hitting Chase Briscoe. Logano spun out, blew all four tires, and had to be towed off the track.

In each case, drivers and crew chiefs had to decide whether to stay out or pit for fuel and tires.

When the final caution for Busch’s spin came out, the leaders hit the pits for fuel and two or four new tires.

Pole-sitter Christopher Bell (top left) and Ross Chastain (1) lead the field to the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

“That race from start to finish was amazing,” said Larson. “That first stage was incredible. The second stage at the end was fun, and then that whole last stage with the wrecks and cautions and then fuel strategy and tires running long and all that was wild.”

According to NASCAR, the previous closest finishes in NASCAR history were Ricky Craven’s win over Kurt Busch on March 16, 2003 at Darlington and Jimmie Johnson’s victory over Clint Bowyer at Talladega on April 17, 2011 – both by 0.002 seconds

NASCAR Cup Series Race – AdventHealth 400

Kansas Speedway

Kansas City, Kansas

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Statistics provided by NASCAR

1. (Started 4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 268 laps complete.

2. (12)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 268.

3. (9)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 268.

4. (13)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 268.

5. (14)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 268.

6. (1)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 268.

7. (18)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 268.

8. (5)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 268.

9. (3)  Noah Gragson, Ford, 268.

10. (8)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 268.

11. (30)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 268.

12. (26)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 268.

13. (29)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 268.

14. (25)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 268.

15. (17)  Josh Berry #, Ford, 268.

16. (21)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 268.

17. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 268.

18. (35)  Justin Haley, Ford, 268.

19. (2)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 268.

20. (15)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 268.

21. (10)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 268.

22. (20)  Corey Heim(i), Toyota, 268.

23. (36)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 268.

24. (22)  Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 268.

25. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 268.

26. (28)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 268.

27. (27)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 268.

28. (32)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 268.

29. (24)  Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 268.

30. (33)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 268.

31. (38)  Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 268.

32. (6)  Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 267.

33. (34)  Austin Hill(i), Chevrolet, 267.

34. (11)  Joey Logano, Ford, 266.

35. (37)  Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 266.

36. (31)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 262.

37. (7)  Austin Cindric, Ford, Accident, 184.

38. (19)  Jimmie Johnson, Toyota, Accident, 175.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 126.481 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 10 Mins, 42 Secs.

Margin of Victory:  .001 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 43 laps.

Lead Changes:  27 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Bell 1;R. Chastain 2-32;C. Bell 33-35;D. Kraus 36-41;R. Chastain 42-43;K. Larson 44;R. Chastain 45-50;K. Larson 51-62;D. Hamlin 63-64;K. Larson 65;D. Hamlin 66-83;R. Chastain 84-87;C. Bell 88;K. Larson 89-118;T. Reddick 119-125;C. Buescher 126-168;K. Larson 169-183;K. Busch 184-197;K. Larson 198-201;T. Gilliland 202-205;D. Hamlin 206-207;C. Buescher 208-214;D. Hamlin 215-227;C. Buescher 228;D. Hamlin 229-262;B. Keselowski 263;D. Hamlin 264-265;C. Buescher 266-268.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin 6 times for 71 laps; Kyle Larson 6 times for 63 laps; Chris Buescher 4 times for 54 laps; Ross Chastain 4 times for 43 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 14 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 7 laps; Derek Kraus 1 time for 6 laps; Christopher Bell 3 times for 5 laps; Todd Gilliland 1 time for 4 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,1,5,20,17,54,19,8,10,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 17,5,11,8,19,54,48,45,1,10

Like our stories? Share them online.