Kyle Larson just misses out on Atlanta win

Kyle Larson’s California cool masked any disappointment he felt for the one that got away.

Kyle Larson just misses out on Atlanta win
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, pit action
Start: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, and Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, lead the field
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, celebrates after winning
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Kevin Harvick’s speeding penalty opened the door for Larson in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.

But the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevy only got a glimpse of the point after eventual winner Brad Keselowski powered his way past Larson.

“I raced around Brad a lot throughout the day,” said Larson, who finished second. “Any time I was in front of him on short runs, he’s drive around me up top. And so, I knew I was going to have to take his line away on that start there for a couple of laps and try it.

“I just didn’t have enough grip or not as much as I’d hoped. He did a good job being a lane lower than me and getting to my inside.”

Larson started the race eighth but fell out of the top 15 in the first 20 laps. When he pitted on lap 33, the team made adjustments that enabled Larson to soldier back into the top 10 five laps later. At the end of 85 laps, Larson was ninth after Stage 1. By the end of Stage 2, Larson had a top-five car and was in contention.

On the sixth and final caution, Harvick, who had led 292 of the first 311 laps, was busted for speeding entering the pits and Larson assumed the lead. Larson executed a masterful restart on Lap 315. He blasted past Matt Kenseth and held the point for seven laps. But Keselowski never let Larson out of his sight.

Disappointing end to a strong race

With seven laps remaining, Keselowski moved to the inside of Larson on the backstretch and completed the pass coming out of Turn 3.

Larson earned his best finish and his first top-five result at the 1.5-mile track. For Larson, it was also his 21st top-five finish in 113 Cup starts.

“It was disappointing not to get the win, but I’m happy about our second place run at a 1.5-mile where I struggle at,” said Larson, who moved up to sixth in the Monster Energy Cup standings. “I can’t thank everybody at the shop enough for building great race cars, and Hendrick engines for supplying us with some great engines,

“I had a blast today. The Target Chevy was good. I ran the bottom a lot, which is not typically something I do. So, it was a lot of fun to learn how to kind of use both feet to get around the bottom and to do a good job with that.”

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