After finishing second in the spring race, Kyle Larson and his No. 32 Cottonelle team traveled to Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) with high hopes for the NASCAR Nationwide Series' second and final trip of the 2013 season to the 0.533-mile track. Larson was consistently fast, setting the fifth-fastest time in practice and qualifying in the top five for Friday night's event. The 21-year-old spent the entire 250-lap race in the top 10, leading 22 laps before finishing the Food City 250 in the fifth position.
Larson took the green flag for Friday night's Food City 250 from the fifth position. After falling back a few spots in the opening laps, Larson began to work his way back towards the front of the field while running the fastest lap times on the track in his No. 32 Cottonelle machine. He battled through heavy lap traffic in the race's opening green-flag run and was running fifth when the first caution flag waved on lap 65 for debris. Larson came to pit road for four tires and fuel and restarted the race from the fifth position after a solid pit stop by his Turner Scott Motorsports crew.
When the caution flag was displayed again on lap 104, for an accident in Turn 4, crew chief Trent Owens made the call to keep Larson and the No. 32 Cottonelle Chevrolet out on the race track. Under the caution, Larson explained that his car was really good after it came to him, but that he was struggling with a tight condition on the opening laps of each run. When the race went back to green, Larson restarted in the first position. He continued to hold the top spot and led 22 laps before relinquishing the lead. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender was running in the third position when the caution was displayed again on lap 153.
After Larson radioed to say his car was pretty good, but he wanted his entry to be more secure, Owens again brought Larson to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Larson restarted in sixth and was running seventh when the final caution flag waved just five laps later. Despite restarting in seventh on lap 178, it took Larson just one lap around the short track to return to the top five. Larson continued to battle with lap traffic and held off some hard charging competitors in the race's closing laps, receiving the checkered flag from the fifth position. The rookie's strong finish at BMS marked his sixth top five and 13th top 10 of the season and moved him one spot forward to eighth in the Drivers Point Standings.
"I would have liked to finish a little better tonight, but anytime you can leave Bristol with a top-five finish is a good night," said Larson. "My car was pretty much the same all night. We were good, but it took our Cottonelle Chevy a few laps to come in, so I was tight on the initial laps of each run. I made a mistake and got in the speedy dry on one restart, which cost us a few positions. I think we really had a top-three car tonight, but I'm happy with our fifth-place finish and have to thank my guys for all of the hard work. I'll go to Atlanta and try to do better next week."
The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway to celebrate Labor Day weekend with the Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 on Saturday, August 31. Television coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. You can also listen to the race live on PRN Radio or SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.