Updated: May 3
RICHMOND, Va. - After a late-race spin by the previous race winner, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson and his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team perfected the final pit stop to take the lead and hold on to win the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Larson was one of the best cars in the field all day as he led 93 laps, which was the second-most during the 400-lap event to HMS teammate William Byron, who led a race-high 117 laps. In addition to the No. 5 and No. 24 Chevrolets, the two other HMS cars of Josh Berry (No. 9) and Alex Bowman (No. 48) combined to lead 18 more laps, bringing the total number of laps led to 228 laps or 57% of the race for HMS.
The four-car powerhouse organization still has interim crew chiefs after the L2-level penalty from back in mid-March. However, that did not stop Larson from sealing the deal to get the win for interim crew chief Kevin Meendering.
"It’s really cool, we’ve been close to winning a couple," Larson said in a post-race interview. "What an awesome Hendrickcars.com Chevy. Can’t say enough about it... Thanks to everyone on this team, Cliff Daniels, for everything he does to prepare the team to be as strong as we are without him on the box. So good to get a win, and hopefully many more."
Larson's No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet runs the same color scheme and number as team owner Rick Hendrick's late son, Ricky Hendrick, who drove during the late '90s through the early 2000s. Hendrick passed away in 2004 at the age of 24 and would have celebrated his 43rd birthday on the same day Larson won at Richmond on April 2.
Despite leading just 10 laps, one of the most talked about drivers of the 2023 Toyota Owners 400 was the man who finished in second, Berry, who just made his sixth career NASCAR Cup Series start.
Berry is currently the full-time driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of JRM, has had Berry as his protégé since 2010 in Late Model cars. Since then, Berry has earned Dale Jr. five wins and 38 top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series.
After a career-best second-place finish in Cup, due to a strategy play from interim crew chief Tom Gray, Berry was all smiles after the race.
"Man, this is really cool, I have to give all the credit to this NAPA team," Berry said. "Tom, Alan remotely, of course, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They made some great calls. When we got some clean track, we weren’t running bad lap times."
"I'm so glad they tried something different to get us there at the end. You know, to come here and start in the back, no practice, qualifying, get spun out, work through the field like that, just second place, it’s pretty cool."
The call for Berry to stay out instead of pitting early helped the No. 9 team go from being spun out earlier in the race by Ryan Blaney to being inside the top-five with less than 20 laps to go.
Other Race Facts
During the 2023 Toyota Owner's 400 at Richmond Raceway, there were 3,816 green flag passes. This marks the most amount of green flag passes at this track since NASCAR debuted Loop Data in 2005 according to Joseph Srigley from TobyChristie.com.
Ty Gibbs and the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing earned his third consecutive ninth-place finish, making Gibbs the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series who is currently on a three-race top-10 streak.
William Byron earned his fifth stage win of the season, making him the fastest driver to reach five stage wins to start a season (seven races) in the era of stage racing.
Toyota led a combined 154 laps during the 2023 Toyota Owners 400. With Denny Hamlin leading 71 laps, Martin Truex Jr. out front for 56 laps, 26 laps led by Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace leading a single lap, Toyota led more laps during this one race than they have in all of the previous six races combined to start the season (136 laps led).
Kyle Busch, Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman are the only three drivers to finish inside the top-20 in all seven races this season.
Results from the 2023 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway are listed below.
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the premier motorsport ranking in the world, and it has officially been released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series that participate in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their initial seeding during Week 1 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
Due to the parity and various inconsistencies in NASCAR to start the 2023 Cup Series season, no Cup drivers are inside the top-10 or even the top-15.
Due to having the highest NASCAR Ratings at 60 points apiece, Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron and Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell debut in the GRID Ranking tied for 17th with a 12.34 rating.
Hendrick Motorsports' Kyle Larson, who finished third in the 2021 GRID Ranking, debuts in 24th with an 11.31 rating.
23XI Racing's Tyler Reddick and Hendrick Motorsports' Alex Bowman round out the rest of NASCAR in the GRID Ranking and they're both tied for 27th with a 10.29 rating.
The official release of the 2023 GRID Ranking Week 1 can be found here.
The next race on the calendar for the NASCAR Cup Series will be something different than the previous races. Cup drivers will get dirty in the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 9 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX in primetime on Easter.
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