Asian Motorsport reviews a dramatic NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway.

By Asian Motorsport

Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway took a dramatic turn early in the final stage when Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez tangled on the frontstretch, also involving Denny Hamlin in the incident.

Kyle Larson, whose mother is Japanese-American, was driving the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and found himself three-wide between Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford and Suárez’s No. 99 Chevy just before contact off Turn 4. The 2021 series champion skidded into the outside wall and into the path of Hamlin’s approaching No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Both Hamlin and Larson made multiple pit stops for repairs, with Larson’s No. 5 entry spending significant time in the Cup Series garage after meeting the minimum speed requirement. Suárez continued to finish in ninth place; Hamlin pressed on for a 24th-place result, two laps down, and Larson ended up 36 laps down in 34th at the checkered flag.

NASCAR driver Larson: “I should have been more aware of who I was around”

Before the incident, Larson, who had secured the pole position, led 80 laps and won Stage 2.

“If I could see a replay, I would tell you what went wrong, if it was my fault or what,” Larson said on pit road post-race. “I mean, obviously if I don’t go three-wide there, there’s probably no crash but I’m probably running sixth into Turn 1 so, but either way sixth is better than crash. Yeah, I don’t know. Like I said, I think just, I should have been more aware of who I was around. Suárez is really aggressive, and I don’t know. He was probably just pushing and got loose, I’m guessing, underneath me.”

Suárez marked his first top-10 finish since mid-April at Texas Motor Speedway, a span of eight races. He acknowledged initiating the contact but was surprised by how much the action tightened exiting Turn 4.

“Honestly, during the race I was so confused, I didn’t know what happened,” Suárez told FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “I didn’t know if I went up or he came down. I just saw the replay for the very first time, and I noticed that the 6 (Keselowski) was the one that was on the outside, he had like a quarter of a car from the wall because he was trying to pinch down the 5 (Larson), and then the 5 had another quarter of a car to the 6, trying to pinch me down, and I was expecting those two guys to be closer to the wall like everyone else. I mean, I’m definitely … I’m the one that made contact with the 5, and I take responsibility for that, but I felt like they were lower than I was expecting.”

Kyle Larson later expressed his frustration with Denny Hamlin on the High Limit Room podcast.

Larson shared his thoughts on the incident and his frustrations with how Hamlin handled himself post-race. “I know he’s not sorry, he shouldn’t be sorry. He did what he thought he had to do to win the race, and he ultimately won the race. The stuff I’ve heard after the race now is what’s frustrated me even more,” Larson said. “For him to say he didn’t hit me, how do you crash somebody when you don’t touch them. Well, (Hamlin) did touch me. You can look at the onboard from the No. 4 car (Kevin Harvick) and you can tell the angle that I have after he hits the left side of my car; I have no angle to make the rest of the corner.”

Larson also mentioned past run-ins with Hamlin and expressed his expectation to be raced with the same respect he offers. He highlighted how racing dynamics affect relationships and indicated that he might need to adjust his approach when racing against Hamlin in the future.

Header photo credit: NASCAR


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