A new face took home the checkered flag in California.
The No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Sacramento, Calif., native Kyle Larson took the race lead on a restart with under 20 laps to go on Saturday in the TreatMyClot.com 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Fontana, Calif. He then held off fellow-Sprint Cup Series regulars Kevin Harvick in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the closing laps to claim his first Nationwide win. Larson's victory marked the first series win for a team other than Joe Gibbs Racing in the last 10 races at Auto Club Speedway.
"That was a blast racing out there," Larson said. "It's pretty cool to beat those guys."
Harvick, a Bakersfield, Calif., native took runner-up honors to give the home state a one-two finish. Busch wound up third. Busch started the race in the back after failing to make a qualifying lap. His team spent the entire qualifying session earlier in the day trying to get the No. 54 through technical inspection.
The top-four was made up entirely of Sprint Cup regulars with Joey Logano finishing fourth in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The highest-finishing Nationwide championship-eligible driver was Elliott Sadler, who finished fifth in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after starting the race from the pole.
"We just over-adjusted a little bit," Logano said of not being able to get back up front in the closing laps. "The run before, Kyle Larson caught me pretty quick, and I was pretty free, so we tightened it up quite a bit and restarted third, there, but it was just too tight." Another Nationwide regular, though, the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Brian Scott moved into the lead when he got by Logano on a restart following the third caution of the reace that came out on lap 72. A few laps later, though, Logano, Busch and others got back by Scott to shuffle him back several positions. In the end, Scott wound up outside the top-10 in 12th.
Later in the race, both Larson and the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Chase Elliott moved in the top-five to run with the Sprint Cup regulars. Elliott lost six positions, though, on pit road during the fourth and final caution of the race inside the final 20 laps, going from fourth to 10th for the restart. He was able to recover, somewhat, in the closing laps to finish just outside the top-five in sixth.
Meanwhile, Larson was second on the restart while Harvick was credited with the lead. Larson took the lead on the restart, Harvick and Busch, swapping second and third spot, seemed to take turns pulling up beside Larson and threatening for the lead. But neither driver was able to pull out in front of Larson and make a lead stick.
"I wasn't very happy when we got that last caution," Larson said. "I was surprised when I got the lead."
Kenseth finished seventh, the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon was eighth, the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne ninth, and the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Regan Smith rounded out the top-10.
"We ended up ninth, and I think we are tied for the point lead, but at this point, if we can't run faster on short runs, we will be in trouble," Bayne said.