Kyle Larson Outshines Big Stars In Winning NNS Race
Can’t-miss rookie Kyle Larson proved worthy of his description Saturday as he held off two of the best wheelmen in the business to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday.
Larson, driving the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, beat back challenge after challenge at the 2-mile oval in Fonanta, Calif. from Sprint Cup stars Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch over the final laps to get his first win in the series.
“I’m shaking still, this is awesome,” said Larson said in Victory Lane. “I thought maybe we could get away [after the last restart], but the 54 (Busch) and 5 (Harvick) were really good behind us, and I had to race with those guys.
“Man, it was amazing. Those last 11 or 12 laps were the longest laps of my life… It was pretty cool to beat those guys. The 54 and the 22 (Joey Logano) have dominated the series for a while now, and Harvick’s with a good team. It was a blast.”
Larson, who had posted five second-place finishes in 37 previous NNS starts, grabbed the lead after a restart on Lap 135 of 150 and survived an intense battle against Harvick and Busch to win.
Logano, who led 96 laps, came home fourth, followed by Coors Light Pole Award winner Elliott Sadler. Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Ty Dillon, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith completed the top 10, leaving Smith and Bayne tied for the series points lead through five races.
Larson, Busch and Harvick spent the last 16 laps dicing for position, with Busch actually leading Lap 145 before Larson charged back past him on the outside and stayed out front to the finish. For Harvick and Busch, the quality and intensity of the racing took some of the sting out of finishing second and third.
“The fans won today,” Busch said, summing up the intense racing of the closing laps.
Larson started the year season with a lot of eyes on him. Not only is he racing NNS, he is a full-time rookie in Cup.
Unlike other high profile drivers – male and female – who have jumped into NASCAR in recent years, Larson appears to be the thing in terms of talent.
“He’s great,” Busch said of Larson. “He’s definitely a great talent. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he’s made it this far. That’s why he’s in Cup. He does a good job. It was fun racing there at the end. I had a track on him and cleared him I would have been done with him, but I couldn’t get the slide job done quick enough without just knocking the wall down. And so he got back to my outside and that was it for us. A great race. We’ll see what happens next week.”No Comment