FONTANA, CA – Kyle Larson (No. 42 Cartwheel Chevrolet) and his growing fan base got a little bit bigger on Saturday as the California native and 21-year-old held off a late-race charge by Kevin Harvick (No. 5 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet) and Kyle Busch (No. 54, Monster Energy Toyota) to win his first NASCAR NNS race at the TREATMYCLOT.COM 300 at Auto Club Speedway.
Larson, who is from the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove in Northern California, led 17 of 150 laps around the two-mile track for the after finishing second five times in 37 Series starts.
Larson’s first win was not only popular with the fans, but several drivers went out of their way to congratulate him after the race.
“That last caution I think I noticed a TV screen and saw my face and next to it it said, ‘five second-place finishes in the Nationwide Series’ and I thought to myself, ‘I am not getting another one,’ ” Larson said. “Those guys came at me hard and I thought, ‘Oh, no. Second again. But I was finally able to stop that streak.”
He added: “To have guys like Rick Hendrick, Kyle Busch and Chase (Elliott) come up and congratulate me after the race was great.”
Harvick’s second-place finish was his 15th top-10 finish in 18 races at ACS. It was his third top-10 finish in 2014.
"We had a lot of fun there at the end," Harvick said. “Obviously, you'd rather win the race, but any time you can be involved in a race like that and put on a show for the fans like we did there at the end, you have some satisfaction."
Said Busch, who has won six of the last eight NNS races here: “It was a great battle there, a fun race the three of us going back and forth and trying to figure out who wanted to win the thing. Congrats to Kyle. There shouldn't be anyone happier than the fans in the stands."
Pole-sitter Elliott Sadler (Sport Clip Toyota) finished fifth. Joey Logano (No. 22 America’s Tire Ford) led the race for 96 laps and finished fourth.
Chase Elliott (No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) was the highest finishing rookie.
Larson, will look to win on back-to-back days on Sunday in the Auto Club 400 and has gotten better each week on the Sprint Cup Series. After finishing 38th in the Daytona 500, he was 20th at Phoenix and 19th at Las Vegas.
"It means the world to finally get it here in my home state of California," Larson said. "Man, that was a blast racing out there, and I think it's going to be a heck of a race tomorrow in the Cup car, too."