Sunday’s roundup: Larson wins checkered flag at Fontana
Fontana, Calif. — Kyle Larson was second to nobody in his home state.
Larson persevered through four late restarts to win at Fontana on Sunday, adding his second career victory to his overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series points lead.
Larson finished second in each of the last three races, but the Sacramento-area native’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was the class of the field at Auto Club Speedway for the second straight day.
He also won the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, completing a clean sweep of the weekend.
“This is just amazing,” Larson said.
“We have been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I’ve been watching all the TV, like, ‘He doesn’t know how to win.’ But we knew how to win today, so that was good.”
Faced with the late drama and jockeying typical to the five-wide asphalt on Fontana’s bumpy 2-mile track, Larson was persistent and tenacious.
After surging up from fourth to first with four new tires before the final caution, he made one last outstanding restart and cruised through two overtime laps to win.
Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills) was second, and Clint Bowyer third for his best finish since June 2015 and his first top-five finish in 52 races. Martin Truex Jr. was fourth after challenging Larson aggressively, and Joey Logano roared up to fifth.
Larson is only the second driver in Fontana history to win from the pole, joining six-time race champion Jimmie Johnson, who did it in 2008. Johnson finished 21st after starting near the back in his backup car.
Larson, 24, also became just the fourth driver to sweep a weekend at Fontana. Headded a win at Fontana to his other career victory on NASCAR’s other 2-mile oval at Michigan.
After an early NASCAR season full of dominant cars getting stung at the finish, Larson wasted none of his advantage.
“He’s on a really nice roll, and it takes everything,” said Keselowski, who surged into second after two outstanding late restarts. “This is a sport of speed, execution and luck, and when you’re on a roll like that, you’ve got all three on your side.”
Sprint car veteran David Steele died during a race in Bradenton, Florida.
Desoto Speedway officials said in a Facebook post on Saturday night track owners and staff were saddened by the crash. The statement says Steele, 42, was trying to win his 100th race in Florida.
A Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report says Steele was driving a sprint car when his vehicle’s left front wheel struck the right rear wheel of another car, causing Steele’s vehicle to go up in the air, spin 180 degrees and hit the retaining wall.
Sebastian Vettel broke Ferrari’s Formula One drought with a victory over Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Ferrari hadn’t won an F1 GP since Vettel’s victory in Singapore in 2015, and Mercedes dominated in 2016.