Busch Holds Off Larson Charge To Win Bristol
By: By Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR News Service, Superior Telegram
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kyle Busch's weekend of dominance continued at Bristol Motor Speedway, but just barely.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup pole-sitter held off rookie Kyle Larson to win Saturday's Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300 in the second-closest finish in track history.
Larson, making his fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series start, trailed Busch by five car lengths with 10 laps to go but went high around lapped traffic and traded paint with Busch as the two crossed the finish line .023 seconds apart.
"I did everything I could to try to protect the momentum," Busch said. "A young kid like that, he's got a lot of talent. He's obviously made a name for himself."
Busch, who will sit on the pole for Sunday's Food City 500, led 156 of the 300 laps. He also turned the fastest laps in both Sprint Cup practice sessions on Saturday.
But Larson, 20, driving the No. 32 Turner Scott Chevrolet, turned heads and turned what looked like it would be a battle between Busch and veteran Kevin Harvick into a three-dog Nationwide fight
"I was catching him. I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I got to them," Larson said. "I was pretty happy that Kyle (Busch) went low on that last corner because I knew it would give me one more shot to get by him."
Busch's No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led 92 of the first 225 laps but the real racing began about Lap 230 when Busch and Harvick approached a five-car group of lap traffic.
It took nearly 10 laps for the lead duo to clear the pack and, by the time they did, Larson was applying pressure.
Harvick elected to pit under caution with 32 laps left. Having difficulty running the bottom, Harvick took four fresh tires, restarting eighth and finishing fifth. Brian Vickers and Sam Hornish Jr., who came into the race as the series points leader, finished third and fourth.
The race took a turn on Lap 194 when leader Brad Keselowski appeared to shake loose from Regan Smith as the two approached the lapped car of Dexter Stacey. But as Keselowski pulled away, telltale smoke told of contact and a left-front tire rub.
Keselowski's tire lasted five laps before giving out. He not only surrendered the lead to Harvick, but fell a lap down.
Pole winner Justin Allgaier, looking for his second career win at Bristol, led the first 62 laps and finished eighth. Trevor Bayne employed early pit strategy, taking two tires to gain the lead before Busch took command on Lap 75.
The next caution brought the Bristol safety crew to the assistance of driver Nelson Piquet Jr., whose car caught fire after a Turn 1 collision with Jamie Dick. Piquet scurried from the cockpit as flames leaked from the engine compartment.