Larson holds off veterans to win History 300 NNS race at Charlotte
MAY 24, 2014 5:10p ET
Kyle Larson was impressive Saturday afternoon, as he led 82 of the 200 laps en route to his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway and second Nationwide Series win of the season.
Larson took the lead for the first time of the day from Brad Keselowski as the pair worked their way through lapped traffic on Lap 118. As Keselowski approached a group of slower cars, Larson was able to weave his way around the outside to take the top spot.
From then on, Larson never looked back as he drove away to his second win of the season and first at the 1.5-mile track in Charlotte. He also won earlier in the season at Fontana.
"It was about perfect for us," Larson said in Victory Lane. "The ENEOS Chevy was great from the time we rolled off the truck Thursday. I knew we had a good lead, but not that good. We were pretty dominant there in the last half of the race."
Behind Larson, Keselowski was forced to hold off a hard-charging Kyle Busch. After wrecking on Thursday, Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing team made repairs at the shop after getting clearance to do so from NASCAR officials and put the car on the pole for Saturday's race.
The final caution of the day flew with 31 laps to go for debris, bringing the leaders to pit road for the final time. Larson was able to maintain the lead off pit road, while Harvick's JR Motorsports team was able to pick him up a spot taking second from Keselowski.
Keselowski made quick work of Harvick, moving to second on the restart, but was forced to deal with the hard-charging No. 54 Toyota.
Working through dicey lapped traffic, Busch was never able to get by Keselowski as the pair finished second and third, respectively.
"We had a good run, just came up a bit short," Keselowski said of his runner-up effort. "The 42 car was really strong there at the end, and we just didn’t quite have enough for him."
Both Keselowski and Busch found lapped traffic difficult to navigate throughout the closing laps of the race, something they said comes with the territory of racing in the Nationwide Series at Charlotte.
"It was very difficult, but that's part of the deal here when you run the Nationwide Series," Keselowski said after his runner-up finish. "As you go down the ladder those things are gonna become more and more of an issue. The cars are a bit of a handful here during the day and it's hard to hold the line, so when you get to the back half of the field that really gets exaggerated with drivers of lesser experience."
"It was probably a little more difficult today because of the heat," Busch said. "The guys were sliding around a bit more, just not liking how their race cars were handling, so they were off pace a bit more than usual."
Busch said the other issue is when lapped traffic is racing each other using multiple lanes of the track, which limits the faster car's options for getting by.
"You're having to zigzag between them as you're going through the corners," he said. "That just makes it that much more difficult to maneuver past them."
"That’s just part of the game," Keselowski added. "It's not something you necessarily like, but it's something you sign up for when you race in the Nationwide Series as a Cup driver."
A solid run for rookie sensation Chase Elliott went south on Lap 87 when his No. 9 Chevrolet hit the outside wall just a handful of laps after making a green-flag pit stop.
The hit was a big blow for the points leader, as the team went to work making repairs on the front of the car. After the initial diagnosis of cutting a tire, the team determined something broke in the No. 9 Chevy, forcing the team behind the wall for further repairs. Elliott ended the day 37th, 26 laps down.
With the poor finish, Elliott fell two spots in the series standings, as Regan Smith took the top spot with a five-point advantage over Elliott Sadler.