Kyle Larson has been called the future of NASCAR and he showed why Saturday taking the lead just past the halfway point and holding off several Sprint Cup veterans to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson made a breathtaking move on lap 119 to take the lead from Brad Keselowski. From there Larson took control of the race and went on to score his second career Nationwide series race win and the second of 2014 the first coming at Fontana in March.
“It was about perfect,” Larson said of his car. “I knew we had a good piece, but not that good.”
Keselowski held off Busch for second, Harvick was fourth behind Busch and Brian Scott was fifth.
After winning the pole earlier in the day, Busch took off at the drop of the green flag. Harvick fell into second, Matt Kenseth third. Kenseth moved in to second on lap 6 as Busch extended his lead to 1.5 seconds. Kenseth never lost touch though and by lap 17 the lead was under a second.
On lap 20 Busch caught traffic and was suddenly fighting Kenseth and Keselowski for the lead. Two laps later he broke free but his lead was now just half a second. On lap 24 Ryan Sieg spun bringing out the first caution.
All the leaders pitted with Busch winning the race off pit road. The green came out on lap 28 with Kenseth able to get the jump on Busch and take the lead. His lead was only about a half second though and Busch held station close behind. Keselowski was able to take second from Busch on lap 45. Busch let his displeasure show and sent a message to Keselowski a lap later with a friendly bump to the back of the Ford of Keselowski.
By lap 60, Kenseth was out to a half second lead over Keselowski while Busch had slipped back to just over 2.5 seconds behind the leader; on lap 65 Busch found himself battling Larson for third. A lap later, Larson got by and began to head to the front.
As green flag stops loomed, Busch continued to struggle falling back to sixth by lap 80 just as Chase Elliott started the round of stops under green.
It was Elliott however who brought out the second caution on lap 88 just after the cycle of stops had been completed. He lost a right front tire and slapped the outside wall. The leaders stayed out with only Busch, Sadler and Elliott pitting. Busch gave up seventh, Sadler eighth. Busch reported that it felt like the body was coming off the car. Busch restarted 11th, Sadler 12th thanks to having only 13 cars on the lead lap.
Kenseth led to the green on lap 93, with Larson second and Keselowski third; two laps later Keselowski passed Larson for second. By lap 97 Keselowski was side by side with Kenseth for the lead taking over the top spot a lap later. Larson took over the second spot from Kenseth on lap 100, the halfway point.
As the two leaders got into lap traffic, Larson made a dive bomb move on the outside of Keselowski as they spilt lap traffic between them to take the lead on lap 119. Soon Larson’s lead was soon just over a second. Kenseth meanwhile continued to slide back.
The second round of green flag stops started on lap 134, led by Kevin Harvick. Larson’s lead was nearly four seconds by lap 141 as the leaders tried to time their stops to ensure they would only need one more on the day. Keselowski came in on lap 142; Larson came in from the lead on lap 144.
After the cycle of stops, Larson remained in the lead with a near 1 second gap over second. The third caution came out for debris on lap 172 lap setting the stage for one final stop. Larson won the race off pit road, Harvick took over second. Keselowski was third Busch fourth.
On the restart Larson was able to stretch his lead out; Keselowski took second from Harvick, Busch then passed Harvick for third. As Larson held onto a lead of nearly a second Keselowski and Busch dueled for second. With 15 to go as the two contested second, Larson stretched his lead to over a second.
Larson was able to cruise over the final laps and hold on for victory holding off Sprint Cup veterans Keselowski, Busch and Harvick.
“It was nice to look in the rearview mirror,” Larson said in victory lane. “And see them getting smaller.”