Larson outruns Harvick, Busch for first Nationwide win|
Fontana, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - California native Kyle Larson held off his
fellow Sprint Cup Series competitors Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in the
closing laps to win his first Nationwide Series race on Saturday at Auto Club
Larson, who is a rookie in Sprint Cup and is in his second full season in
Nationwide competition this year, grabbed the lead from Harvick after a
restart with 16 laps remaining. Busch chased down Larson and pulled ahead of
him with six laps to go, but Larson quickly moved to the front again, leading
the final five laps.
Larson's first victory in NASCAR's second-tier series came in his 38th start.
He had finished second five times, including a runner-up to Busch in last
weekend's race at Bristol, before capturing his maiden win.
"Those last 11 or 12 laps were the longest laps of my life," Larson said. "I
could see the 54 [Busch] and the 5 [Harvick] just racing hard behind me, and
they weren't getting any further back."
Larson's hometown is Elk Grove, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento. The 21-year-
old Larson is driving the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing in Sprint Cup and
the No. 42 for Turner Scott Motorsports in Nationwide this year. He won rookie
of the year honors in Nationwide this past season.
"It means the world to finally get it [first Nationwide win] here in my home
state of California," he said.
Larson ended Joe Gibbs Racing's streak of nine straight Nationwide race wins
at this 2-mile Southern California track.
Harvick, driving the No. 5 car for JR Motorsports in this race, moved into
second when Larson had passed Busch for the lead. Harvick then made several
attempts to overtake Larson for the top spot but came up 0.34 seconds short at
"We had a lot of fun there at the end," Harvick said. "Obviously, you would
rather win the race, but anytime you can be involved in a race like that and
put on a show for the fans like we did there at the end, I guess you have some
satisfaction in that. It was a good race."
Harvick, who hails from nearby Bakersfield, Calif., has yet to win a
Nationwide race at his home track in 18 attempts.
Busch, who had won six of the last eight Nationwide races in Fontana, finished
right behind Harvick in third. Busch had to start from the rear of the field
(39th) after his car failed technical inspection several times during
qualifying, which was held earlier in the day. There was an issue with the
length of the wheel studs and then a problem with the rear end of his car
having too much skew. He could not make a qualifying run.
"It was a great battle there and a fun race with the three of us going back
and forth and trying to figure out who wanted to win the thing," Busch said.
"Congrats to Kyle for coming out on top here. It was a battle there at the end
that was pretty clean."
Joey Logano led 96 of 150 laps but faded late in the race to finish fourth,
while Elliott Sadler, the pole sitter, took the fifth spot.
Rookie Chase Elliott rebounded from an incident with Dylan Kwasniewski, also a
rookie this year, earlier in the race to finish sixth. Elliott scraped the
wall when Kwasniewski bumped into and shoved him up the track.
"I ended up getting into the 31 [Kwasniewski] and getting into the wall, and
what do you know, our car started handling better, so it ended up helping us
out a lot," Elliott said.
Matt Kenseth, Ty Dillon, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith completed the top-10.
Bayne moved into a tie with Smith for the Nationwide points lead, while Dillon
is six points behind them.
03/22 21:47:32 ET