Photo: Chris Owens/ASP, Inc.

Larson’s Dominant Day at Darlington Ends with Third-Place Result

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

Throughout the first two stages of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington, Kyle Larson looked to be untouchable, but the waning laps went exactly the opposite way the No. 42 team expected and he would have to settle for a third-place finish instead.

For 284 laps, Larson’s Chevrolet led the way, but within the last 60 laps of the race, the yellow flag flew three times, erasing his advantage each and every time. When the final caution came out with 24 laps left, it came down to the pit crews to get the job done.

Brad Keselowski would beat Larson off of pit road and was able to get ahead of him on the ensuing restart en route to the win. Meanwhile, Larson battled a loose-handling race car, eventually falling to third after getting passed by Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano.

Larson would have to fend off Kevin Harvick to keep from falling any further back in the field, which he was able to do to finish on the podium when the checkered flag flew.

“It’s always important to come out the leader off pit road or be the control car on the restart,” Larson said. “I felt like if I could have been in clean air, I would have been all right. All day when I would get in traffic I’d get loose. There on that last run I was just really loose and allowed Joey (Logano) to get by. I knew the only really weakness we would have throughout the race was a short run and that’s what it kind of came down to.

“On long runs, I was just really, really good all race long. That was good. Hat’s off to everybody back at our race shop. This car was extremely fast. We had the dominant car and we proved it. We just came up a little bit short.”

It was déjà vu for Chip Ganassi Racing as the team’s No. 42 Xfinity Series car had the same thing happen to them on Saturday as they led the majority of the race and won the first two stages, only to see the lead slip from their grasp in the closing laps of the race.

With another win slipping from his grasp this season, Larson, who is already locked into the Playoffs on points, will head to next weekend’s race at Indianapolis looking to grab a win in the final race of the regular season.

“It stings, for sure, to not win at a prestigious race like this,” Larson added. “I want to win every race, but I want to win a Southern 500 really bad. So, it would have been cool to win that. But, at the same time, to bring a car to the race track like we did this weekend is something to be proud of and a big confidence-booster going into the next 11 weeks.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.