Kyle Larson returned to Daytona International Speedway to claim the strong finish that eluded him in the February event at the 2.5-mile superspeedway and left with his eighth-consecutive top-10 finish. Larson managed to stay out of the characteristic "big one," earning his first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) top 10 at a superspeedway and Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors with a sixth-place finish.
After running seventh in both practices on Thursday, Larson laid down the 13th-fastest qualifying lap in the Saturday morning time trials. Taking the green flag with the intention of going to the front, Larson found solid drafting help in Justin Allgaier, working with his teammate to advance into the eighth position by lap 35. A long caution-free run led to green-flag pit stops on lap 36 where the No. 32 Clorox team took four tires and fuel.
Returning to the track in 10th, Larson advanced to the ninth position before the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 49. Crew chief Trent Owens called his driver down pit road for two right-side tires, and the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) crew gained one position in the pits, putting Larson in the eighth position for the lap 53 green flag.
Larson and TSM teammate James Buescher now claimed each other as dancing partners, and the 20-year-old driver was scored as high as second before the pair relinquished their place at the front of the field. The second caution flag of the night waved on lap 72 for fluid on the track. Owens called Larson down pit road for a fuel-only stop, and the No. 32 machine advanced from 15th to eighth after the strategic call.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 78, and while paired back up with Allgaier, the two surged to the front of the field. Larson took over the first position on lap 80, leading two laps and earning a valuable bonus point. As the racing action heated up, pairs of cars swapped positions frequently, and Larson dropped back as far as 16th before the final yellow of the night and subsequent red flag.
With the field poised for a green/white/checkered finish, Larson, now scored in 11th, was in position to team up with strong contender Kurt Busch in the final laps. The two were able to rally to the front and Larson fought to the finish, ultimately crossing the finish line in the sixth position. Although he did not earn the Nationwide Insurance Dash4Cash $100,000 bonus, Larson qualified for the next Dash4Cash event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next week.
"I'll take a sixth-place finish, it was nice to have a good, clean finish in a superspeedway race," said Larson following the race. "This was another good day for us, both performance wise and in the points. We gained another spot in the standings and now we're only 42 points out, which is encouraging after the way the season started. We earned our eighth-consecutive top 10, which shows the kind of groove this team is in as far as consistency. This race was really the last of the real 'wild cards,' and we got out of here with a good finish, so now we just need to worry about continuing to rack up these top 10s."
Larson's top-10 finish gains him one spot in the NNS Driver Point Standings, putting him sixth, 42 points behind the leader. The Nationwide Series next heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the CNBC Prime The Profit 200. The event airs on Saturday, July 13 on ABC at 3:30 p.m. EDT and Larson is once again eligible for the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus.