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Kyle Larson: Streakbuster

Kyle Larson: Streakbuster

by March 23, 2014 0 comments

Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images

FONTANA, Calif. — Kyle Larson dashed Joe Gibbs Racing’s hopes for a 10th consecutive Fontana victory in spectacular fashion as he claimed victory in the TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

With the win, Larson has earned his very first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory after making 37 previous starts in the series.

“It’s nice to get a win,” Larson said in victory lane. “I was looking at the board over there in one and two and it said ‘five second-place finishes in the Nationwide Series,’ and I didn’t want to make it six. It means the world to finally get it here, in my home state of California.”

Larson beat fellow California native, Kevin Harvick, to the line by .342 seconds after fighting a fierce battle against the two-time series champion across the final several laps. Six-time Fontana winner, Kyle Busch, was also a part of the fray and was narrowly beat to the line by Harvick.

“The 54 and 5 were really good behind us,” Larson said. “I had a heck of a race with those guys, it was amazing. Those last 11 or 12 laps were the longest laps of my life. I could see the 54 and 5 racing hard behind me and they weren’t getting any further behind.”

After starting 39th because he missed qualifying  due to a failure in inspection, Busch charged his way up through the field, working his way up to the eighth position by the tenth lap. By lap 42, Busch had fought his way to the lead.

“You want to come out here and win, that’s what we’re here to do,” Busch said. “When it all comes down to the end like that and a great finish happens, there shouldn’t be anyone any happier than the fans in the stands. I thought that was a really good day. Maybe we put on the best show because I had to start last and drove all the way to the front. There at the end we were just a little shy and Larson won. All in all, the fans won today.”

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Mustang for Team Penske this week, led 96 laps but came up short at the end, finishing fourth. Logano dominated the first two-thirds of the race but lost the lead on lap 131 as he was unable to hang with Larson, Harvick, or Busch.

Elliott Sadler, the pole-sitter for the event, was the highest-finishing Nationwide Series regular, finishing fifth.

After the conclusion of the fifth event of the season, we have ourselves a tie at the top of the drivers’ standings. Trevor Bayne was able to finish ahead of former points-leader Regan Smith by one position during today’s race, and thus has pulled himself level with Smith.

The Nationwide Series has the week off next week as the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series head off to Martinsville, Virginia. The Nationwide Series will be back in action at the Texas Motor Speedway on April 4th.

Top-10 Finishers of the TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson(i) – Chevrolet – Turner-Scott Motorsports
  2. 5 – Kevin Harvick(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  3. 54 – Kyle Busch(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  4. 22 – Joey Logano(i) – Ford – Team Penske
  5. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  6. 9 – Chase Elliott# – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  7. 20 – Matt Kenseth(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  8. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  9. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
  10. 7 – Regan Smith – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports

(i) = Ineligible for Nationwide Series driver points.

# = Rookie.

Drivers’ Standings after Round 5 of 33

  1. 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 185 | Leader | –
  2. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Roush-Fenway Racing – 185 | Leader | –
  3. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Richard Childress Racing – 179 | -6 | –
  4. 9 – Chase Elliott# – JR Motorsports – 177 | -8 | –
  5. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Joe Gibbs Racing – 174 | -11 | –
  6. 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 160 | -25 | –
  7. 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 160 | -25 | –
  8. 31 – Dylan Kwasniewski# – Turner-Scott Motorsports – 149 | -36 | +1
  9. 99 – James Buescher – RAB Racing – 145 | -40 | -1
  10. 19 – Mike Bliss – TriStar Motorsports – 125 | -60 | +1
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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