Larson dominates ARCA race, overcomes late-race challenge
JUN 07, 2014 3:15p ET
There was no doubt Kyle Larson was the driver to beat in Saturday's ARCA Racing Series event at Pocono Raceway, but for the majority of the race nobody had what it takes to get the job done.
That all changed on the final restart of the day with nine laps to go, when Mason Mitchell was able to get around the Sprint Cup Series driver for the lead.
Over the next seven laps, Larson went to work chasing the new leader down. Coming to just two laps to go, Larson got under the No. 98 of Mitchell and made the final pass for the lead.
Taking the checkered flag for his first ARCA win, the Sprint Cup rookie became the 17th different winner in 17 races at Pocono, and the fifth different winner of 2014.
"That was surprising," Larson said of Mitchell's late-race challenge. "We had the dominant car by far the whole race. Then the 98 (Mitchell) surprised me. He was real fast and pulled away from me a little bit there. He got excited a couple times in (Turn) 2 and killed his run, and I was able to get a run on him and get to his inside.
"That would have sucked to lose that race," he said, "but it was fun racing him there at the end. It was a blast. I definitely learned some things in traffic there that should help me out for (Sunday)."
Mitchell was forced to settle for second, his second runner-up finish of the season.
"I made a kind of bold move going into Turn 1 there on the restart, but I had to do it to get back up there to get to the front," Mitchell said. "When we passed him on the restart there I was doing all I could to hold him off. We did pretty good to go up against a Cup team there."
John Wes Townley, Will Kimmel, Justin Allison, Josh Williams, Frank Kimmel, Grant Enfinger, Cody Coughlin, and Karl Weber rounded out the top 10.
Starting from the pole, Larson jumped out to a commanding lead in the early stages of the race and held the spot for much of the 80-lap event.
Most of the leaders hit pit under the first caution for fuel only, but Austin Wayne Self and Tom Hessert stayed out trying to beat Larson with strategy. Larson wasted no time making his way back to the lead and opening a gap on the field after the restart on Lap 13.
Once Larson took the lead from Self, he simply drove away from the field, getting much valued time on the "Tricky Triangle" of Pocono Raceway.
After losing the second spot to Justin Allison, Self hit pit road on Lap 36 under green for fuel after staying out; however, he was hit with a pit road speeding penalty twice. Self eventually pulled the car behind the wall, ending his day early.
While Larson continued to dominate, Allison hit pit road on Lap 46 under green, but the team had a lengthy stop and he stalled the car leaving pit road. Thanks to a late caution, Allison -- the grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison -- climbed his way back to fifth.
Larson finally hit pit road under green with 30 laps to go, maintaining a 28-second lead over second-place runner Matt Tifft.
That lead evaporated when Larson was hit with a penalty for crossing the blend line too early exiting pit road. Despite his pass-through penalty, Larson maintained a five-second lead over Tifft in second place.
The eight cars on the lead lap got a chance to catch up to Larson's back bumper when the caution flew for debris with 21 laps to go.
With his car stuck in fourth gear, Allison stayed out and restarted with the lead with 16 laps to go. As the field jockeyed to maneuver around Allison's slow car, Justin Boston and Tifft made contact headed into Turn 1, sending both cars hard into the outside wall. Hessert also got damage in the incident as he slowed to avoid the wreck up ahead.
The caution set up the final restart of the day where Mitchell and Larson battled for the win.
The ARCA Racing Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for their next event on June 13.