SPARTA, Ky. — Calling Kyle Larson’s weekend at Kentucky Speedway an adventure would be quite an understatement.
First, his car failed inspection so many times in qualifying that he didn’t even post a lap and started dead last. Even on raceday, it took more than one attempt to finally clear tech inspection. And they did so with less than 30 minutes to go before the start of the Quaker State 400.
Starting dead last, Larson moved his way through the field and made it all the way up to third by the conclusion of the first stage. But he was sent to the tail-end of the field on the following restart for speeding on pit road and was forced to work up through the field a second time.
While he didn’t score any stage points in the second stage, a result of finishing outside the top-10, He found himself running top-five in the closing laps of the race itself.
With race leader Martin Truex Jr. pulling out to a 15-second lead in the closing laps, it looked as though Larson would have to settle for just a top-five. But that all went out the window when Kurt Busch’s engine expired on the frontstretch with two laps to go.
While Truex opted to stay out, Larson and a company of others elected to pit. He exited third (fourth in the running order) and restarted behind Truex, who chose the outside line, on the overtime restart.
He gave a push to shove Truex out ahead coming to the green, but ended up behind Kyle Busch. Exiting Turn 2, however, Larson got underneath him, powered by and cleared him going into Turn 3.
A four-car wreck exiting Turn 4 ended the race under caution and locked in a runner-up finish for Larson.
He said afterwards that he wasn’t sure what he could’ve done to catch Truex.
“Yeah, I don’t know what we could have done to beat him,” Larson added. “He was obviously pretty fast with the lead there. It would have been fun to get to race him because I felt like I had the second best car today; and it would have been interesting to get a restart with him earlier and get to hang with him that last run there. But, we brought the Target Chevy home second after not being able to qualify and having to start last in the race and then having my speeding penalty there. I guess I was just a little too fast leaving my stall and got a penalty. So, I’ve got to clean that stuff up. I’m mad at myself that I made that mistake. I don’t really know if it affected the outcome, but you never know.”
Larson leaves Kentucky the points leader, retaining a one-point lead over Truex.