Kyle Larson lost the Ford EcoBoost 300, but was awarded the Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year award as his consolation prize.
“It means a lot to me to win the Rookie of the Year in the Nationwide Series,” said the 21-year-old Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver, who finished second in Saturday’s race. “A lot of the veterans in the past and in the current Cup Series have won the Rookie of the Year. To add my name to that list hopefully means I’m doing something good.”
Larson led the most laps (54) Saturday in his first start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but lost the lead to winner Brad Keselowski with three laps remaining. Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five.
“As far as tonight went, I think we definitely had the best car on the long run,” Larson said. “Short runs, we were maybe fourth or fifth best. After seven or eight laps, we were really, really good. I got on the wall three or four times. Seemed like every time I did, it made my car better.
“Kyle Busch drove by me earlier and asked me if I learned anything from him in Cup practice. I definitely did. I learned the higher you get, the faster you go. It’s a fine line up there. Had a lot of fun. Got beat on tires there at the end. I knew Brad was coming. Had that long yellow flag. I thought that was going to help us and maybe keep us out front long enough to win. Just came up a couple laps short.”
Still, in his first full season in the Nationwide Series, Larson posted nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 33 starts driving the No. 32 Chevy for Turner Scott Motorsports.
“To get four second-place finishes my rookie season isn’t any reason to hang my head," Larson said. "Proud of how my Turner Sport guys have worked."
Larson will make his fourth start in the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday in the No. 51 Chevy. He’ll roll off 17th.
NOTE: Larson’s car failed post-race inspection from the left front being too low. This is the second offense for the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevy.