KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 05: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 05, 2024 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 05: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 05, 2024 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Kyle Larson beats Chris Buescher at Kansas in closest NASCAR finish ever

In the closest finish in NASCAR history, Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher to the checkered flag by roughly one inch to win Sunday night’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway.

After Kyle Busch’s spin on Lap 261 of a scheduled 267 sent the race to overtime, Buescher took the lead on the restart of the two-lap shootout, only to have Larson pull even on the backstretch on the final lap.

Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet and Buescher’s No. 17 Ford banged doors twice coming to the finish line. Buescher held the edge a foot from the stripe, but Larson surged ahead to win in a photo finish, with timing and scoring showing a margin of 0.001 seconds.

The victory was Larson’s second of the season, his second at Kansas and the 25th of his career. The win was the sixth this season for Hendrick Motorsports, most in the NASCAR Cup Series so far this year.

“That was wild,” said Larson who had faded from second to fourth before Busch’s spin. “I was obviously thankful for that caution. We were dying pretty bad. Was happy to come out third (off pit road), 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.”

In the frenzied overtime, Chase Elliott was third, 0,059 seconds behind Larson, followed by Martin Truex Jr., who trailed the leader by 0.075 seconds.

The caution for Busch’s spin negated the fuel-saving measures that had dominated the final stage of the race. The lead-lap cars pitted en masse on Lap 263, with most taking right-side tires only, and Truex opting for fresh rubber on all four corners.

Fifth-place finisher Denny Hamlin was first off pit road and chose the bottom lane for the overtime restart with Larson behind him and Buescher to his outside. But Larson ducked to the inside entering Turn 1, abandoning Hamlin and allowing Buescher to surge into the lead.

Buescher, who scored his first career top five on an intermediate speedway, held the top spot until Larson surged ahead by a half-car-length on the backstretch to set up the wild drag race to the finish line.

“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 Castrol Edge 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.”

The race featured 27 lead changes among 10 drivers and seven cautions for 43 laps. Except for stage breaks, the race ran caution free until Lap 176, when contact from Corey LaJoie’s Chevrolet sent seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson spinning in a three-car accident that slowed the race for seven laps.

Three more cautions followed in rapid succession, creating varying strategic options as drivers either chose to pit for fuel or to stay out. Truex, who had ample fuel, was closing fast late in the race on then-leader Hamlin, who was saving gas, when the caution for Busch’s spin forced the overtime.

Pole winner Christopher Bell ran sixth, followed by Alex Bowman, Busch, Noah Gragson (scoring his third straight top 10) and Michael McDowell.

“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.

“You guys got your money’s worth today, and I’m just proud to be a part of the show.”

Notes: Hamlin won the first stage and Buescher the second… The previous closest finishes in NASCAR history were Ricky Craven’s 0.002-second win over Kurt Busch on March 16, 2003 at Darlington and Jimmie Johnson’s victory over Clint Bowyer at Talladega on April 17, 2011 by the same margin… Corey Heim finished 22nd in relief of injured Erik Jones, who will return to action next weekend at Darlington… Larson extended his series lead to 29 points over Truex in second… Larson’s victory by the closest of margins kept Ford drivers winless through 12 races this season.

— NASCAR News Wire —

See race details at: Race Results, Driver Points Standings, Owner Points Standings, Cumulative Report, Penalty Report.

See complete race information on the Kansas race page.