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Chastain: ‘Really cool’ to mirror speed of Larson in third-place finish at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Ross Chastain held his head high as fireworks went off around the track following Sunday night’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Chastain finished tops among non-playoff drivers as the NASCAR Cup Series opened up its 10-race postseason stretch at the 1.366-mile South Carolina oval. The third-place result validated that Chastain and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team could be closing in on a potential race victory before Trackhouse Racing absorbs the operation in 2022 and Chastain becomes the second driver alongside Daniel Suarez.

But it was who Chastain was racing against at the end that added an extra pep to his step — Kyle Larson.

“It was really cool to say we were close on speed to the 5 car,” Chastain said. “That’s crazy. We were close at Nashville (Superspeedway) and we were close here. Similar package, you know, you see a trend. So, we’ll keep working on that.”

NASCAR close to moving the Clash exhibition to Los Angeles: Sources

NASCAR is close to finalizing a deal that would turn its season-opening exhibition race into a blockbuster Hollywood event, The Athletic has learned.

The sanctioning body has been in serious talks to move the Clash from the Daytona International Speedway road course to a purpose-built short track inside the 77,500-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which has played host to some of the greatest events in sports. NASCAR would hold the race in early February, likely two weeks before Feb. 20 Daytona 500, and use the event to build hype for the upcoming season and the launch of the Next Gen car, which is scheduled to race starting in 2022.

Who won the NASCAR race yesterday? Complete results from Sunday’s playoff race at Darlington

The winner of Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway ended a season-long drought and put himself into the second round of the playoffs.

Denny Hamlin claimed the checkered flag for the first time in 2021, winning the Cook Out Southern 500. He had to fight off regular-season champion Kyle Larson after Larson made a desperation move on the final turn.

Headaches galore: Contenders struggle in NASCAR playoffs

Headaches galore: Contenders struggle in NASCAR playoffs

There were problems galore from some of the top contenders to start the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs

Martin Truex Jr. pits during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Darlington, S.C.

  • John Amis – freelancer, FR69715 AP

Crew members work the pit as Alex Bowman comes in during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Darlington, S.C.

  • John Amis – freelancer, FR69715 AP

Ryan Blaney races in a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Darlington, S.C.

  • John Amis – freelancer, FR69715 AP

Cars race under the lights during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Darlington, S.C.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Kyle Busch slammed into the wall and wiped out several orange cones on his way to the garage. Chase Elliott told his crew chief simply, “It’s killed,” after he was crunched against the wall at Darlington Raceway.

It was a layout certainly “Too Tough To Tame” for some of the top contenders in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener on Sunday night.

The last two series champions, Busch in 2019 and Elliott last year, were out of their cars and planning for next week in Richmond long before Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag.

NASCAR is reportedly close to moving its preseason Clash race to the LA Coliseum, and that’s an awesome idea

The Clash — the NASCAR Cup Series’ preseason exhibition race — got a new look at the beginning of the 2021 season, moving from the Daytona International Speedway’s iconic 2.5-mile oval to the venue’s road course.

Well, for the 2022 season, it’s reportedly getting a total makeover and moving across the country.

NASCAR has been in “serious talks” and is on the verge of finalizing a deal to move The Clash “to a purpose-built short track” at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 2022 exhibition race, The Athletic reported Monday.

Darlington winners and losers

A look at the winners and losers after a weekend of racing at Darlington Raceway

WINNERS

Denny Hamlin — Finally gets that first victory of the season after holding off Kyle Larson’s last-lap move.

Kyle Larson — Finished second for the third consecutive time at Darlington but made it exciting on the last lap with his video game move.

Ross Chastain — Placed third in his best finish since placing second at Nashville in June. 

Noah Gragson — So within a few days of JR Motorsports announcing that Gragson will be back with the Xfinity team in 2022, he snaps a 49-race winless streak. His three career Xfinity wins have come at Daytona, Bristol and Darlington.

Denny Hamlin wins NASCAR playoffs opener

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Denny Hamlin shook off a difficult week in the best way possible — ending his season-long winless drought with a victory at the Southern 500 to open the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

The week’s problems included some personal issues and continued at the track Saturday when Hamlin was in line to win the Xfinity event here until a pit penalty dropped him back.

This time Hamlin had to hold off the season’s top playoff seed in Kyle Larson, who closed to Hamlin’s bumper racing to the finish line Sunday night.

“It’s certainly significant,” Hamlin said. “This one’s big for us and our team and our momentum.”

DENNY HAMLIN VS. KYLE LARSON? A LOT CAN CHANGE AS THE CUP SERIES PLAYOFFS UNFOLD

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Watching Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson battle for the win Sunday at Darlington Raceway, it is hard not to envision them battling that way all the way through to the championship in nine weeks at Phoenix Raceway.

But history says to not get too excited over the opening round of the playoffs, and especially the opening race.

LA Coliseum: Rumors circulate of NASCAR race in Los Angeles

They might finally add a real short track to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule

By short track, I mean a track under a half-mile. A real temper-flaring short track.

The Busch Clash is an exhibition race held at Daytona International Speedway, one week before the official opening of a new season via the Daytona 500. The race features a limited field of NASCAR drivers.

Clash Criteria: Playoff drivers (from previous season), Daytona Pole Award winners, former Clash race winners and former Daytona 500 pole winners.

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