Kyle Larson's gamble doesn't pay off as he has to pit, three laps later the rain falls and Kurt Busch is declared the winner of the Quicken Loans 400 in Michigan.
2014 Rookie of the Year finally gets a top-three finish DOVER, Del. -- By the end of last season 2014 Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson had grown accustomed to and quite fond of reeling off top-five finishes. He had eight -- including three runner-up efforts. But it took 12 races to score his first in 2015, that coming with a season best third place run in Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway . Larson also qualified a season-best third and ran among the top 10 all afternoon, but it wasn’t until the waning laps that his No. 42 Target Chevy made a real push for the front in a quest for his first career Sprint Cup Series win – a victory people predict could happen at any time and any place. Yet for all the expectations, until Sunday, the 22-year-old Larson hadn't scored a top 10 since early April at Bristol, Tenn. Six times in 11 starts this season (he missed the Martinsville, Va., race because of severe dehydration) Larson finished 20 th or worse. "Our first good run of the year,'' Larson acknowledged. "Hopefully this will kind of transition into some momentum for us, for our team, and we can start getting some more top-five and top-10 finishes." He certainly had to work for this one. Although he lingered near the front, Larson truly put himself in the trophy mix -- improving positions on each of the race's final three restarts -- with less than 20 laps remaining. "We were good for most of the race; we got off kind of midpoint of the race and got really tight,'' Larson said. "Then we freed up a lot and got better. Still weren't as good as we were in the beginning of the race there at the end, but I was able to line up in the right lines, it seemed like, those last three restarts and gain a couple spots each time. "The inside row on that last one [restart] spun their tires really bad and got a bad start, so we were all able to roll around them and kind of cruise to a third place finish.'' The effort moved Larson up two positions in the championship standings to 20 th . He is 72 points behind 16 th- place Ryan Newman on the Chase grid. It's the second time in three races that both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers – including his teammate Jamie McMurray – finished in the top-15. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Race marked Busch's first start in XFINITY competition since Daytona injury RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BROOKLYN, Mich. – In his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race back from a broken right leg and left foot, Kyle Busch proved conclusively that he hasn't lost a step. Taking advantage of contact between the Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick and the Ford of polesitter Joey Logano —as those two drivers were battling for the lead—Busch passed Chase Elliott for the lead on Lap 122 of 125 and held on to win Saturday's Great Clips 250 at Michigan International Speedway . Busch's series-best 71st victory, his second at the two-mile track, came nearly two months after the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was sidelined by a brutal Feb. 21 crash into a concrete wall in Turn 1 at Daytona International Speedway . Busch returned to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action in the Sprint All-Star Race in May, but deferred his XFINITY Series comeback to Saturday's race at Michigan. "It feels good," Busch said after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. "This is only a preliminary for what we’ve got to do on Sundays (in the Sprint Cup Series), but it's a start. You've got to start somewhere, right? "I can't say enough about this team. (Crew chief) Chris Gayle did an awesome job today with this race car. We messed up a little bit today on a pit call, but we made up for it. Hard racing today, man. It was crazy, the side-by-side action we got here. The track's kind of widening out, lending itself to some cool action." After a restart on Lap 116, the race unraveled for Logano and Harvick. As the two drivers fought for the lead in Turn 3, with Logano to the outside, Harvick's Chevrolet got loose and washed up the track into Logano's Ford. WATCH: Harvick, Logano discuss late contact at Michigan The right rear of Logano's Ford brushed the outside wall, but both drivers were able to continue, albeit after losing several positions. Harvick finished sixth, and Logano, who led a race-high 54 laps came home seventh. Harvick took responsibility for the incident. "I just got loose underneath him," Harvick explained. "I had a huge run down the back straightaway. That late in the race, I figured I need to try to win the race, and I got in there, and he was on the outside of me, but it was too late to not have contact at that point. "So totally my fault. I just got loose under him going for the win." Harvick's mea culpa was little consolation for Logano, who had the race's dominant car for most of the day. "We were racing for a win here, and it just seems like he drove in there pretty hard trying to slide me," Logano said. "I drove up in there, too, and he got loose underneath me and got into my left rear and up we both went into the race track. "It's unfortunate. I had a fast Discount Tire Ford, obviously the winning car, leading a ton of laps and up there at the end of the race. I was racing hard, and he just drove over his head a little bit." Despite his runner-up finish, Elliott left Michigan disappointed he couldn't find a way to keep Busch behind him in the closing laps. "I'll be honest—second does not feel good, to me at least," Elliott said. "I thought we had a car good enough to compete today… We finally got ourselves in position there. We had two even-numbered restarts where we were six and fourth (in the preferred outside lane) that put us in position there to have an opportunity on that last restart. "Obviously, the 22 (Logano) would have been really hard to beat, and Kevin got into him by accident and moved him up the race track. Obviously, that opened up our opportunity to have a shot at the win… ( Kyle ) is really good at what he does, and I don’t really have an excuse for it. So, yeah, he outran me." Kyle Larson finished third, followed by Chris Buescher , who extended his series lead to 25 points over Ty Dillon , who came home 13th. Elliott is third in the standings, 35 points back. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver earned career-best second-place finish in this race last year Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- Ending his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series as the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year with eight top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes along with one Coors Light Pole Award, Kyle Larson is still searching for more -- a win. It was last year's Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Spedway when the California native's racing abilities truly began to shine. Rightfully earning the admiration of NASCAR veteran Kyle Busch , Larson came up second to Busch in the 2014 Auto Club 400 after fighting hard in the final laps. Busch was able hold Larson off as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver crossed the finish line .214 seconds ahead of the then-rookie, who had won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race just one day earlier. Now, with Busch being sidelined for injuries sustained in this year's opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona, it begs the question -- what driver will be holding off Larson for the lead this year? "There's a lot of good cars and (Kevin) Harvick has definitely been strong so far this season, so I'm sure he'll be the one to beat," Larson said on Friday at the Auto Club Speedway . Though 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick has displayed nothing but dominance so far this season, Larson has already earned himself two top-10 finishes and will start fifth in the field for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). "I like this place," Larson said. "It's tricky because of all the seams and it's got a pretty worn out surface and you have to search around for all the grip, but it seems to suit my driving style." The 22-year-old will get plenty of practice on the oldest asphalt on the Sprint Cup Series schedule when he runs in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the race that gave Larson the first XFINITY Series win of his career. But Larson's run in Saturday's XFINITY Series race will see him start in a backup car as the No. 42 driver spun out in opening practice after Mike Bliss dropped oil on the track, forcing Larson to make the move. "We should be OK," Larson said. "I got to make one lap in (the backup car) afterward and it felt fine so hats off to my guys for getting me back out there in that practice to make one lap, that gives me some extra confidence to qualify." Once the XFINITY Series race is over, Larson will have one thing on his mind: proving that he's the car to beat in Sunday's race. Larson's crew chief Chris Heroy jokingly recalled a request Larson made after coming up short to Busch last year. "He came on the radio and asked me if he could do a burnout," Heroy said after the 2014 Auto Club 400 . "I told him, 'Next time, if things work out.'" Perhaps Larson's "next time" is now. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Larson talks about his third-place finish, the best of his 2015 season, in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.
ParkerStore to also serve as associate sponsor on No. 42 Chevrolet Kyle Larson has picked up a familar sponsor for two NASCAR XFINITY Series races later this year. HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi announced on Wednesday that ParkerStore will be the primary sponsor when Larson is behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in June at Michigan International Speedway and in November at Texas Motor Speedway . The company will also serve as an associate sponsor. ParkerStore's history with Larson goes back to when he raced outlaw karts in California. The two teamed up at the end of the 2014 season when Larson ran in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway , where he finished second. "I am really excited to continue with ParkerStore," Larson said in a statement provided by the team. "To be able to team up again with a sponsor from my early racing days is really cool. I know we'll continue to make a great team. I'm really looking forward to their first XFINITY race in Michigan and working with them both on and off the track. Late Wednesday morning, Larson tweeted out this message about reteaming with ParkerStore. Pretty cool to still be racing with @ParkerStore . Glad to have them back with @TeamHSMCG http://t.co/wMoSrCkEXJ pic.twitter.com/sx4acuOsbE — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) May 13, 2015 Larson has started three of the nine XFINITY Series races this year with top-10 finishes in all three of his efforts. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Larson promotes the new #TakeTheLeap campaign from AXE White Label.
Doctors hold Larson for more testing following fainting spell
Larson , McMurray get more practice time for IMSA event
Rookie earns third runner-up finish of season at Kansas RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota As disappointed as Kyle Larson was in failing to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as a rookie, he seems just as determined to play the role of non-Chase spoiler with a victory down the season's home stretch. Judging by recent finishes, it's less a matter of if than when. Larson matched his best finish in NASCAR's top series for the third time this year Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway , coming home a close second behind race-winner Joey Logano in the Hollywood Casino 400 . While he's not title-eligible, his trio of top-three finishes in the last four races have left him knocking on Victory Lane's door. Only points leader Logano (two wins, a pair of fourth-place finishes) has opened the Chase stronger. @joeylogano was a lot fun. That's as hard as I've ever seen you run the top. It was kind of cool to be behind and see but frustrating also!! — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) October 6, 2014 "We'll get some wins here soon hopefully before the end of the year," Larson said from the media center, where his impressive finishes have made him a regular visitor, "and I think once we get one, we should be up here more often as a winner." Any Larson wins from this point on would snatch away an automatic transfer spot from a Chase driver in the next two postseason elimination phases. The uptick in performance -- both from the driver and his Chip Ganassi Racing team -- has been enough to prompt Larson to talk in hypotheticals about his would-be Chase chances. Larson , 22, first ventured into the Sprint Cup tour with four races last season with the Harry Scott Jr.-owned No. 51 team. Now he's returning to the same tracks for the second or third time, heating up just as the weather takes a sharp turn toward autumn. What-ifs? Why not? "Yeah, I think it's a little bit of experience, second time at the track, and a lot of these tracks in the Chase are (some) of my best tracks, so I think that's why we've been running really well," Larson said. "Yeah, just got to keep it going. I think Charlotte is another mile‑and‑a‑half, so we should hopefully be pretty good there. We had a couple tire issues there the last race (which) is why we didn't finish very well, and then Texas ‑‑ Phoenix I even kind of like, and Homestead should be a good one. Martinsville is probably the worst track on the schedule, so don't expect much there, but anything can happen at Talladega, too. "Yeah, if I can just make the Chase, I'd have a lot of fun because these are some of my favorite tracks." Among the first to lean in and shake the rookie's hand post-race was third-place finisher Kyle Busch , who said his car lacked the pace to keep up with either Logano or Larson down the stretch. The two share not only a first name but common ground, both entering the sport as a can't-miss kid with gobs of sheer talent. Now with the better part of 10 seasons and 359 starts making up his rich Sprint Cup history, the 29-year-old Busch's days as an up-and-coming prodigy are behind him, but he sees in Larson a glimpse into the sport's future. "Awesome. I think Larson is a great addition to the Sprint Cup Series," Busch said. "I think he's got a lot of talent. We knew that coming up. We knew it wasn't going to be a long road before he got here -- that's why he's in the seat he's in. As a matter of fact, I asked Chip (Ganassi) if he's the one that found him or if we need to blame somebody else for bringing him here. "The kid has done a good job. He's got a good head on his shoulders. He's fun to race around. He's a hard racer, too. He sometimes don't give you a whole lotta room, but when he knows to give you room, he gives you room, too. It's been fun to see him learn this year. I mean, I'd like to see him finishing behind us a little more often, but he has already this year. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future." When Larson got the call-up to NASCAR's big leagues this season as a fresh-faced 21-year-old, speculation among fans and insiders alike was that the Sprint Cup promotion to the No. 42 Chevrolet's seat was a rush job. After erratic results in the opening three races of the season, the "too soon" theorists had some early fuel for their argument. But the improvement has come in waves, causing the team to adjust their season-long goals from racing in the top-10 to competing for top-five finishes. Setting sights on the Chase will have to wait until next year, but Larson still has plenty of accomplishments next up on the list. "I definitely feel like I've been running a lot better than what I thought I would to start the season, but I thought I would make the Chase, too," Larson said. "A little bit disappointed there, but I've been finishing better than I thought I would have, so happy about that. But just missed that one goal that we had before the season started. "Like I said, just got to keep it going." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation