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Kyle Larson punches ticket to Championship Four with narrow win in Las Vegas

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Kyle Larson punches ticket to Championship Four with narrow win in Las Vegas

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Kyle Larson became the first driver to clinch a spot in the NASCAR Championship Four on Sunday as he held off Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch for the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Larson survived an early slide that nearly put him into the wall. But he battled past playoff contender Bell and crossed the finish line in first place. He led 133 of the 267 laps and won Stages 1 and 2.

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Kyle Larson celebrates

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 15, 2023. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“Glad that we don’t have to sweat through these next two races,” Larson said.

The race turned back in Larson’s favor when he beat Bell and the rest of the leaders off pit road with 57 laps to go. Bell was playing catch-up in the latter stages of the race but couldn’t get around the No. 5 down the front stretch. He beat Bell by 0.082 seconds.

“I could see him coming in my mirror, for sure,” Larson said of Bell. “Luckily, Christopher has always raced me clean. It could have gotten crazy there coming to the start/finish line.”

Kyle Larson pits

Kyle Larson makes a pit stop during the South Point 400 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race, October 15, 2023, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Matthew Bolt/LVMS/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Bell was in fifth place after the race and is currently on the outside looking in – two points behind Denny Hamlin.

“I don’t know what else I could have done,” Bell said. “I feel like that was my moment. That was my moment to make the final four and didn’t capture it. It would have been nice to lock in.”

It was Larson’s fourth win of the season.

South Point 400 over view

Drivers compete during the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

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William Byron, Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin round out the top four right now. Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher round out the top eight spots.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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