No. 5 NationsGuard Chevrolet Race Results: Miami Homestead
Date: February 28, 2021
Race: Dixie Vodka 400
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval/ 267 laps / 400 miles
Points (behind leader): 8th (-42)
On a restart with 60 laps to go in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Larson led the field to the green flag. But he battled a tight condition in the race to the checkered flag and finished fourth – his first top-five finish and second top-10 in 2021. The 267-lap race was won by Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.
Larson, who started 17th, quickly showed the speed of the No. 5 NationsGuard Chevrolet. He was inside the top 10 in just four laps and was running third when the day’s first caution waved at lap 25.
“I’m pretty decent,” Larson reported to the team. “A little tight early in the corner, and tight in traffic.”
Crew chief Cliff Daniels called for a change of tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during a lap 27-stop, but the length of the stop for the adjustment forced Larson to restart ninth. The changes worked as the No. 5 Chevy moved toward the ‘loose’ side. Larson was scored sixth when stage 1 ended at lap 80.
When the race restarted at lap 87, the 28-year-old again maneuvered through the field quickly – moving up to second position on lap 98. But the loose condition Larson experienced on longer runs returned and he fell to fourth before green-flag pit stops began on lap 115. Larson stopped for new tires, fuel and more chassis adjustments on lap 122 before returning to the track in 14th. He gained six positions before another caution waved at lap 153.
With only seven laps remaining in the stage and championship points awarded to the top-10 finishers of each stage, Daniels called Larson to pit road for new tires, fuel and more chassis adjustments. Larson restarted eighth with only one lap to go and gained three positions around the 1.5-mile circuit to finish stage 2 in fifth.
Larson, who did not pit during the short caution period, restarted third behind Byron and, by Lap 175, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running 1-2. When the day’s final caution waved at lap 199, Larson was down to third stating the car was “loose” and had “no grip on exit (of the turns).”
Another fast four-tire stop by the No. 5 crew allowed Larson to win the race off pit road. He restarted as the leader with 60 laps to go, but lost the lead to Byron and was scored second on lap 216. He remained there until losing a position to Tyler Reddick on the penultimate lap and another spot to Martin Truex on the final lap to finish fourth.
On Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series visits Las Vegas Motor Speedway. FOX and PRN Radio will broadcast the 400-mile race live beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST March 7.
Comments From Kyle Larson: “It got pretty intense there at the end. I was just trying to take care of my tires and struggling on the long runs. But I felt like being tight was better for my long runs than loose, just because I could be a little more confident. I would have liked to finish second, but those guys were better than me in the end. I hate that I gave up those spots. But it was a good day for the NationsGuard Chevy team. It’s really cool for William Byron to get a win this early in the year. Hats off to their team.”