Kyle Larson put up a valiant fight against the 'Monster Mile,' earning his third-consecutive top-10 finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS). Larson overcame scorching heat and early handling issues to earn the VIZIO/Hulu Plus team a 10th-place finish at Dover International Speedway in the 5-hour ENERGY 200.
Taking the green flag from the 15th position on a hot and sunny afternoon, Larson pledged his team that he would do his best to "stay out of trouble" at the infamous 1.0-mile concrete track. After assessing his VIZIO/Hulu Plus Chevrolet for 15 laps, Larson relayed that his Camaro was losing the front end on exit. Holding onto his position through the first caution on lap 47, the 20-year-old explained to his crew that he needed to be able to rotate better. The No. 32 team serviced their driver with four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment in an attempt to loosen up the handling, sending Larson back onto the track in 17th.
By the time the second yellow flag of the day waved on lap 80, Larson was running lap times comparable to the top five, but a spread-out field prevented him from gaining more than one position under green. Larson returned to pit road during the caution period, receiving fresh tires and fuel for his VIZIO/Hulu Plus Camaro. A solid stop by the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) crew put Larson back in 14th for the lap-85 restart.
Larson continued to lay down competitive laps, but his racecar was loose in the center and tight off over the course of the run, preventing him from advancing his position. A yellow on lap 114 gave the TSM team another opportunity to adjust on the No. 32 machine, providing four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. When the field went green on lap 121, Larson keyed his radio to say that he started the run "way too tight to be able to race against these guys."
Finally, as tire pressures built up, Larson could start picking up spots, advancing to 12th before the final yellow of the day on lap 163. Larson once again took four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment, returning to green-flag racing from the 12th spot. Over the course of the final 33 laps, Larson fought hard against his competitors, battling into 10th place before the wave of the checkered flag. Larson's third-consecutive top-10 finish earned him Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors for the 5-hour ENERGY 200.
"I'm really glad we were able to pull off a top 10," said Larson following the race. "The guys worked really hard to get our VIZIO/Hulu Plus Chevy better and we had it pretty good by the end of the race. It feels great to get our third straight top 10; we need to keep this momentum going into Iowa. This was a tough race. This is the hottest I've ever been in a racecar this year, maybe the hottest ever."
Larson remains ninth in the NNS Driver Point Standings. The Nationwide Series next heads to Iowa Speedway for the Dupont Pioneer 250. The event airs on Saturday, June 8 on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. EDT.