Kyle Larson held off Kevin Harvick in the final laps of the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night to collect his first win of the year and a $1 million prize.
The win came after Larson only qualified for the All-Star Race by winning the Monster Energy Open qualifier earlier in the day.
Big Win Comes in Disappointing Season for Larson
That race allowed three more drivers to get into the All-Star field, and Larson took full advantage. While the race won’t count for points, it still marks a return to form for Larson, who had been struggling to put together strong finishes this season.
“Gosh, after the year we’ve had I would have not guessed that we’d get our first win at the All-Star Race, but I think the way that the format is and how crazy the race is, it kind of helps us out,” Larson said after the race.
The win makes Larson only the second driver in history to win the open qualifier, then go on to also win the All-Star Race.
The win came at the expense of Harvick, who appeared to be in great shape to take the victory after winning Stage 2 of the race. Harvick gave Larson a bump on the second-to-last restart with 12 laps remaining, which was enough to propel the eventual winner into the lead. Unfortunately for Harvick he wasn’t able to track down Larson in the remaining laps.
According to Harvick, he had the right car to win on the night, but other aspects of his team’s performance were lacking.
“The guys did a great job of preparing the race car. They just weren’t ready to make a pit stop on pit road tonight,” Harvick said afterwards. “You can’t just show up and have it be a disaster. They’ve been great all year. Tonight wasn’t great.”
Instead, Harvick had to settle for second place, ahead of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
Bowyer, Newman Fight After Race Ends
There was also post-race drama, as Clint Bowyer ran up to Ryan Newman’s car after the checkered flag and attempted to throw punches through the driver’s side window. Newman had his helmet on, however, and crew members were able to separate the two men before the fight escalated any further.
Newman and Bowyer had made contact several times during the race, with the final incident ending with Bowyer turned towards the outside wall.
“Where I come from, you get punched in the nose for that, and that’s what he got,” Bowyer told reporters.
Newman told reporters that his tapping of Bowyer’s car was “to let him know I didn’t appreciate the way he raced me,” then took a shot at Bowyer’s actions after the race.
“It doesn’t take much of a man to try and fight someone with a helmet on,” Newman said.
Heading out of the All-Star Race, Kyle Busch remains the favorite to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at most sportsbooks. Paddy Power had Busch listed at 5/2 odds to take the title, ahead of Martin Truex Jr. (5/1), Harvick (11/2), Brad Keselowski (11/2), and Joey Logano (6/1).