Kyle Larson sweeps in Fontana, winning Auto Club 400

Written by Robert Henry
Fontana, CA – Kyle Larson takes home the checkered flag after a grueling 200 laps at the Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it was his second cup series win.  Larson swept this weekend’s races with a win in the Xfinity race and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Just three laps in to the race the first caution flag was waved when Jimmie Johnson bumped Brad Kesleowski, pushing him off the track and sending Kesleowski to the back of the pack.  After the first caution flag was waved the top positions was first place Paul Menard, second David Ragan, and third Kyle Larson.  Then shortly after the caution Martin Truex Jr. overtakes nearly the whole pack to take second place from the 28th spot.  After 20 laps, Larson lead followed close behind by Truex Jr. and Chase Elliot.  In the 28th lap Kevin Harvick was forced to stop in pit road due to a flat tire that was torn off around the last turn before pit road.  After 35 laps Larson dropped from first place to third following behind Truex Jr. in second and Logano in first.  Just five laps later Truex Jr. was able to over come Logano and take first place with Larson chasing right behind him and Elliot close behind him.  On the 52nd lap Larson makes a pass on the inside to pass Truex Jr. taking back the lead.  Johnson was the favorite to win but near the end of the first stage Larson lapped him.  At the end of stage one Larson was in the lead with Truex Jr. and Elliot right behind him.

As the second stage started Larson dropped back to third place with Truex Jr. leading the pack and Jamie McMurray in second place.  Michael McDowell was forced to pit road when his tire unexpectedly blew out on its own.  After 80 laps both Truex Jr. and Larson were battling for the first place spot but Truex Jr. was able to maintain position.  On lap 89 Elliot came racing past Larson taking the second place spot and making it hard for Larson to take first place.  Although Larson was pushed to second he was able to keep pushing his vehicle to get back into second place and for a brief moment was able to take back the first position.  At this point in the race Truex Jr. had been leading the pack for a total of 67 laps keeping a commanding position at first.  By the end of stage two the leaders were Truex Jr., Larson and Elliot.

At the start of the final stage Larson decided to take a more aggressive approach and over took Truex Jr. and took the first place position.  After 17 laps Larson held a 1.3 second lead over Truex Jr. and was determined to keep that lead.  With 44 laps to go Larson decided to head to pit road for some new tires but did not lose much positioning thanks to the speed of his pit crew.  After 160 laps Kyle Busch and Ty Dillion were able to make their way into the first and second position.  This was not going to last long with Larson hot on their tail and wanting his first place positioning back.  In just four laps Larson was able to steal the first position back.  With just 30 laps to go, Truex Jr. was closing the gap to one second behind pack leader Larson.  Then seemingly out of no where driver Gray Gaulding lost control around turn one and hit the wall causing the caution flag to be waved and forcing him out of competition.  Due to the caution Larson was able to stop at pit road for another set of tires, which would be extremely helpful near the end of the race.  Then with 16 laps to go Matt Kenseth was hit by Truex Jr. sending Kenseth into the wall and out of the race.  With just 10 laps to go the front three in the pack were Larson, Denny Hamlin and Truex Jr. battling for the first position.  Then, with just eight laps to go Corey LaJoie spins out on his way around turn 2 causing yet another caution flag to be waved.  Larson and the rest of the drivers decided to head back to pit road for new tires.  All but three drivers headed back to pit road but that would be a downfall for the drivers on the road.  Larson re-entered the track from pit road in great positioning, coming in 3rd with 4 laps to go.  Then another incident happens on the track causing another caution flag to be waved.  This sent the race in to overtime.  Overtime occurs when a caution flag is waved to close to the end of the race, so they allow the drivers to exceed the 200-lap limit.  Larson came out of the restart in the first position and stayed there until the checkered flag was waved giving him a huge win in his home state of California.  Larson lead 110 of 202 laps at today’s race and it is no wonder why he took home the win.  Congratulations to Ganassi Racing on the big win today and to Kyle Larson for sweeping the races this weekend!

Here is the unofficial Top 3 of the race:

1.) Kyle Larson
2.) Brad Keselowski
3.) Clint Bowyer

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