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

Kyle Larson (5) takes the checkered flag over Chris Buescher (17) to win the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday in Kansas City. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson (5) takes the checkered flag over Chris Buescher (17) to win the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday in Kansas City. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher in the closest finish in NASCAR history on Sunday night at Kansas.

Larson got alongside Buescher in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap after a green-white-checker restart and somehow snuck past Buescher at the finish line as Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. tried to join the party.

The finish was so close that the scoring monitors showed that Buescher won the race. Officially, Larson won the race by 0.001 seconds.

“That race from start to finish was amazing," Larson said after climbing from his car.

Both Larson and Buescher took two tires on their pit stops during the final caution flag. The yellow flew with less than 10 laps to go for a spin by Kyle Busch. Neither of them led the field to green with two laps to go, however.

Denny Hamlin was the race leader with two laps to go and chose the bottom lane for the restart. Buescher was alongside him on the front row and Larson was behind him on the inside. Hamlin didn’t get a great start and Larson got to his inside as Buescher took the lead entering Turn 1.

Larson was behind Buescher as the white flag flew and got a run down the backstretch on the final lap. Buescher left a lane between himself and the wall entering the final two corners and Larson squeezed in between and didn’t back down.

Buescher's Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing wasn't too thrilled about the outcome. It posted a picture of the start/finish line to social media after the race that shows the line thicker on the higher-banked portion of the track than on the apron from the angle of the team's photo.

Fox's camera mounted on the wall also shows a thicker finish line above the apron. However, it sure seems that Larson got to both points in the line before Buescher did because of his greater momentum off the corner.

Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher by this much at Kansas on Sunday. (via NASCAR on Fox)
Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher by this much at Kansas on Sunday. (via NASCAR on Fox)

And if you're not convinced after that, here's the official photo from NASCAR showing that Larson is the winner.

Sunday’s race at Kansas was rain delayed by hours because of rain. Once it started, it was the best Cup Series race of the season.

Drivers used every lane available from the drop of the green flag and the ability for drivers to pick a different groove from the car ahead of them and the myriad strategies that unfolded throughout combined for a compelling race.

Hamlin controlled the last part of the race after a strategy call. He found himself back in the pack because of pit road trouble and used the caution barrage at the start of the third stage to pit for gas to make it to the end of the race as soon as he could.

As the drivers ahead of him pitted to do the same just a few laps later because of another caution, Hamlin found himself back at the front of the field.

He then drove away from Buescher and Larson over the final 20 laps. However, Busch’s spin on lap 260 of the scheduled 267-lap race sent everyone to pit road.

Hamlin, Buescher, Larson and Elliott were four of the eight drivers who took two tires on the final pit stop. Truex left pit road in ninth, the first of the drivers who took four tires. And had the race gone another lap, Truex would likely have won. He gained four spots on the penultimate lap.

After the first two stages went caution-free, the start of the third stage was a mess. Laps 175 through 197 featured four caution flags.

Hamlin ended up leading six times for 71 laps, while Larson led six times for 63 laps. Buescher led for 54 laps and Ross Chastain led for 54 laps, though his car tailed off considerably as the race went on.

Larson’s victory is the 12th finish in electronic timing history with a margin of victory that’s less than 0.01 seconds and the second finish of the season with a finish less than 0.005 seconds.

Sunday’s race edges the 2003 spring Darlington race for the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history. That iconic finish featured a door-slamming battle between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch for the checkered flag and had an official margin of victory of 0.002 seconds.

The 2011 spring race at Talladega also had a 0.002-second margin when Jimmie Johnson beat Clint Bowyer at the checkered flag.

The second race of the 2024 season is now the fourth-closest finish in NASCAR history. Daniel Suarez’s win over Ryan Blaney at Atlanta had a margin of 0.003 seconds and was the third-closest win ever until Sunday.

1. Kyle Larson

2. Chris Buescher

3. Chase Elliott

4. Martin Truex Jr.

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Christopher Bell

7. Alex Bowman

8. Kyle Busch

9. Noah Gragson

10. Michael McDowell

11. Brad Keselowski

12. Ryan Blaney

13. John Hunter Nemechek

14. Todd Gilliland

15. Josh Berry

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. Bubba Wallace

18. Justin Haley

19. Ross Chastain

20. Tyler Reddick

21. Chase Briscoe

22. Corey Heim

23. William Byron

24. Carson Hocevar

25. Austin Dillon

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Daniel Suarez

28. Ryan Preece

29. Zane Smith

30. Daniel Hemric

31. Derek Kraus

32. Ty Gibbs

33. Austin Hill

34. Joey Logano

35. Riley Herbst

36. Harrison Burton

37. Austin Cindric

38. Jimmie Johnson