Cup rookie Kyle Larson nearly pulls off weekend sweep

Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson drives his No. 42 Target Chevrolet during Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway.

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There were plenty of unknowns going into the final green-white-checkered restart during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, but few could have seen Kyle Larson’s amazing charge coming.

Taking the final restart in the ninth spot, Larson wasted no time slicing and dicing his way through the field in the final two laps.

As Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart battled out front on the white-flag lap, Larson worked his way into a position to follow Kyle Busch through the SHR battle off Turn 2.

Kyle and Kyle show: Busch holds off Larson in wild Fontana finish

Working the back bumper of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota, Larson was unable to make the move for the win but scored his career-best finish with the runner-up result.

Scoring the dramatic win in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race over Busch and Kevin Harvick, the Sprint Cup rookie came one spot shy of earning his first weekend sweep.

"I don’t know where everybody went (on the restart), but we ended up second there," Larson said. "It went through my mind, ‘Man, I might sweep the weekend.’ "

While he missed out on the sweep, Larson’s second-place finish was not shocking for Sunday race winner Kyle Busch, who could not catch the 21-year-old during Saturday’s Nationwide race. 

"It’s no surprise Larson is good," Busch said. "He gets the experience there of racing against us — racing against me, Kevin, racing against guys like Matt Kenseth, whoever else the Cup guys are that race Nationwide. Once he got (to the Sprint Cup Series) he was more ready, and he ran some races last year, got his feet wet, got a taste of it, and then this year him and his crew chief have gone to work and they’ve communicated well, done a good job."

After struggling in the season-opening Daytona 500, Larson has slowly been working up the charts each week. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was 20th at Phoenix, 19th at Las Vegas, and 10th last week in Bristol, respectively, before embarking on what turned out to be a spectacular weekend in Fontana, Calif.