DARLINGTON, S.C. - Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson led the final 55 laps of the Cook Out Southern 500 en route to his third win of 2023 and first NASCAR Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway in the crown jewel event.
Despite not showing much speed in qualifying, Larson was one of three Chevrolets who finished inside the top five at Darlington, along with teammate William Byron in fourth and Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain in fifth.
With the "Lady in Black" being one of Larson's favorite tracks and understanding the history of this place, winning at the historic South Carolina track felt special.
“It's definitely in the top five," Larson said. "This has been one of my favorite tracks my whole career and been really, really fast here my whole career, just usually get in the wall.
"Finally, we have the Next Gen car that's tough enough to allow me to hit the wall, so was able to make some mistakes and get a win. Adding this trophy to the collection is going to be amazing, it’s just such a prestigious race."
23XI Racing had one of its best efforts all season long as Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace finished second and seventh respectively.
Reddick led 90 laps in the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota Camry, earning 51 points to get the No. 3 seed heading into Kansas next weekend.
"Kyle and I were pretty close the majority of the day, honestly," Reddick said. "He just got ahead of us there unfortunately on pit road, but all in all this is the day that we needed to have. I’m really just thankful for the hard work from the pit crew, the team, everyone at the shop.
"Days like this with a car like this we haven’t been able to get a second-place finish out of it so I’m really glad we’re able to do that. We’re sitting pretty good. It was a pretty good points day on top of that as well.”
Meanwhile. Wallace was able to recover from a spin earlier in the race to finish in the top 10. While it was not an easy day for the No. 23 McDonald's Toyota, it was a good result before returning to the track he won at a year ago.
"All in all, a decent day – a really good day for our team, but the driver’s got to go back to the drawing board and just take a step back, take a breath and regroup and go to Kansas and have a little one-year anniversary tour," Wallace said.
The most dominant car all day was the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin, who also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday.
Hamlin led a race-high 177 laps and swept both stages. However, after complaining about a potential loose wheel, Hamlin came back down pit road and never got back on the lead lap.
Due to the number of points Hamlin earned in Stage 1 and Stage 2, he still earned 32 points despite finishing 25th, which was tied for the ninth most of any driver in the field.
“Yeah, it all matters for sure," Hamlin said. "All the work you put in, the stages, the regular season, it all matters. I don’t know what the points are, I really don’t care. Just I hate losing a race that we definitely should have won."
Results from the 2023 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway are listed below.
Other Race Facts
Playoff drivers occupied the first nine finishing spots and 11 of the first 12 finishers. Erik Jones, who won the Southern 500 last season, finished ninth.
Toyota managed to lead 307 of 367 laps (84%) and only had two drivers finish inside the top 15 (Tyler Reddick in second and Bubba Wallace in seventh).
After the first race in the Round of 16, the four drivers currently outside the top 12 heading into Kansas are Wallace (-1), Kevin Harvick (-2), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-4) and Michael McDowell (-19).
Ross Chastain's fifth-place result is his first top-five finish since he won Nashville in June.
"It was a heck of a battle for the No. 1 Unishippers Chevy team," Chastain said. "We needed 1,000 miles to get all the way to the lead. We just weren’t fast. All weekend, I haven’t felt like our balance was super far off, but it just didn’t translate to speed. I’ll take a top-five finish, for sure, and ride home happy.”
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 22 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
MOST RECENT FINISH
Martin Truex Jr.
Week 23 of the GRID Ranking:
The second race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will take place at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 10. Coverage of the Hollywood Casino 400 begins at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.
GRID Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GRIDRanking
GRID Ranking: https://twitter.com/GridRanking
GRID TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@gridnetwork
GRID Buy Me A Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/gridnetwork
GRID Website: https://www.gridranking.com/
GRID History: https://twitter.com/Grid_History
GRID YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@gridranking