Kyle Larson headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start at the 1.058-mile oval. After struggling to find speed in practice, Larson laid down the 13th-quickest time in qualifying and looked to add to his streak of eight consecutive top-ten finishes. After running in the top-15 throughout the entirety of the CNBC Prime's 'The Profit' 200 and moving up to eighth position for the final green/white/checkered restart, a late-race penalty for a restart violation relegated Larson to a 14th-place finish.
Larson and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team struggled to find the right balance on Friday, as the No. 32 McDonald's Chevrolet went back-and-forth from loose to tight throughout the two practice sessions. After finishing 17th and 25th in first and final practice, respectively, Larson's TSM team worked to adjust the car's setup prior to Saturday morning's qualifying session. Larson went out early in qualifying but laid down two strong laps, placing him 13th on the starting grid for the CNBC Prime's 'The Profit' 200.
After starting 13th, Larson settled into the 15th position early in the race as he radioed crew chief Trent Owens to explain that the tires of his McDonald's Chevy were sliding as he got back to the gas exiting the corners. Larson was still running in the 15th position when the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 36 for debris on the track. Larson came to pit road under the yellow for four tires, fuel and track bar and air pressure adjustments for his No. 32 McDonald's car. Larson restarted in 16th position but moved up to 14th before the yellow flag was displayed again on lap 42 for an incident in Turn 4. After staying out, Larson had another solid restart when the race went back to green on lap 47 and quickly moved into 11th.
Larson raced in the 11th and 12th positions throughout the second quarter of the race, radioing his team on lap 74 to report that his McDonald's Chevy was loose off of Turn 2 but tight off of Turn 4. Owens called Larson in for a green-flag pit stop on lap 111, with the TSM team giving their driver four tires and fuel while making an adjustment to loosen up his No. 32 machine. As soon as green-flag stops cycled through, the caution was displayed on lap 122 for fluid on the backstretch. Owens brought Larson back down pit road for a fuel-only stop, and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender restarted in the 12th position on lap 128. The caution flag waved again quickly for more fluid on the track and Larson again restarted 12th on lap 135.
Larson settled into the 11th position on lap 140 and remained there throughout the rest of the scheduled 200 laps. The caution flag waved again on lap 198, setting the field up for their first green/white/checkered attempt. Larson restarted in 11th on lap 202 but the yellow flag was once again displayed, and Larson restarted in ninth on the second green/white/checkered attempt. The caution flag waved once again after the restart, followed by a short red-flag period, and Larson was forced to give up his eighth-place position when he received a penalty for a restart violation. Owens called Larson in for four tires and a splash of fuel and he restarted 18th for the final green/white/checkered attempt on lap 212. Larson was able to gain a few positions in the final two laps, crossing the finish line in 14th in his No. 32 McDonald's Chevrolet Camaro.
"I was really looking forward to coming to New Hampshire," said Larson. "This is one of the tracks on the Nationwide Series schedule where I have experience, since I won the K&N East race here last fall. We struggled in practice but qualified better than I expected. We were starting to dial it in throughout the race, and I thought Trent's strategy to bring us in for a fuel-only stop under the yellow was going to work out really well. Unfortunately, we got hit with a penalty at the end, but we were still able to finish 14th. I've got to thank McDonald's for the support and my team for all the hard work this weekend. I think we'll all be looking forward to getting back on track next weekend at Chicago."
The NNS heads to Chicagoland Speedway next for a standalone race on Sunday, July 21. Coverage of the STP 300 will begin on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The race can also be heard live on MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.