BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Larson’s first chance to get a big win in NASCAR ended with him claiming a controversial win.
With a shot at grabbing his first Nationwide Series win Saturday, he wasn’t going to make that same mistake again.
Especially not against Kyle Busch.
Larson stalked Busch over the closing laps around Bristol Motor Speedway waiting to make a move. It came as they closed in on the finish line, and Larson made a last-gasp push on the high side that fell just short as Busch held on for his second win of the season.
But in chasing the win the right way, the 20-year-old Larson cleaned up some of the criticism that had followed him from Daytona last month after spinning C.E. Falk III on the final lap of the “Battle at the Beach” late model race.
“You certainly want to try to win races the right way,” Busch said. “He played it smart today. That was good on his end. I think a lot of people have been looking at him to try to see if he’s going to be to a wrecker or a checker. Today he didn’t get the checkers, but that’s how you get them. You drive into the corner, or drive into the back of me, I’m going to be here for a while and if he keeps coming up through the ranks, he’s not going to have fun dealing with me every week.
“But right now? I’m going to race him as hard as he raced me, but just as clean as he raced me because he didn’t put a fender on me all day.”
It was Busch’s fifth career Nationwide victory at Bristol, tying him with Kevin Harvick for the most in the series. Busch has a series-record 53 wins, and two in the last four weeks after going winless last season.
Brian Vickers was third and was followed by Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. and Harvick.
ANNETT UNSURE WHAT CAUSED INJURY IN DAYTONA CRASH: Michael Annett was back at the track as a spectator, unable to drive his Richard Petty Motorsports car in the Nationwide Series race because of a fractured and dislocated sternum.
He was injured in a crash during last month’s season-opener at Daytona. He spent a night in the hospital before returning home to North Carolina, where doctors discovered the severity of his injury. Emergency surgery followed and Annett is sidelined indefinitely.
Now questions remain as to what caused Annett’s injuries as NASCAR, RPM and seat belt manufacturer Schroth investigate the accident.
“The steering wheel hadn’t moved, it wasn’t bent,” Annett said at Bristol Motor Speedway. “There wasn’t a mark on the helmet, a mark on the suit. It was pretty much my body stayed where it was supposed to and my sternum tried to come out of my chest. That’s all we do know. Everything did its job. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here.
“We sat in a meeting this week and saw pictures of a brand new set of belts and then my belts after the wreck and everything was correct. It was six-point harness. NASCAR is working on implementing a seven-point harness, which is something I’m definitely going to look into, but, right now, everything did its job.”
Reed Sorenson is driving Annett’s car until he can return, and doctors believe he could be sidelined eight weeks. But Annett hopes to get back in the car a week earlier than planned based on how well he’s felt.
RAIN FORCES AUSTRALIAN GP QUALIFYING TO SUNDAY: In Melbourne, Australia, qualifying for the Formula One season opener will be completed Sunday after a series of rain delays and darkness prevented the running of second and third sessions Saturday.
A wet first session of qualifying was completed after a half-hour delay, but a succession of delays of Q2 meant it was becoming too dark to hold the remaining sessions.
Both qualifying and race at the Australian Grand Prix begin at 5 p.m. local time to satisfy European television audiences.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was fastest in Q1 ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. Among the six drivers eliminated in the session was Williams driver Pastor Maldonado.