ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Kyle Larson simply would not be denied Sunday afternoon at Rockingham Speedway.
Larson held off a furious charge from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Joey Logano to win the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, completing a dominating performance en route to his first series victory.
Driving the No. 30 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports, Larson started third and moved forward in short order. By lap 18 Larson had moved around race leader and teammate James Buescher to take the lead for the first time.
Throughout the day Larson found himself challenged by a multitude of different competitors, including Brendan Gaughan, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. But Larson’s real challenge came in the closing laps from Logano.
Late in the race Logano found himself trapped a lap down, but a caution flag on lap 174 allowed Logano to get his lap back and pick up four used but fresher tires. Another quick caution slowed the field again on lap 180 but once the green flag waved again Logano began his march through the field.
With five laps left Logano had made it to second and was closing on Larson, but the race took an interesting turn with two to go. A crash on the front stretch involving Timothy Peters and Ryan Sieg forced Larson to hold off Logano during a green-white-checkered restart.
During the restart Larson was able to beat Logano down into turn one and hold him off as they raced to the white flag. Logano gave it his best shot on the last lap, but he simply ran out of time as Larson beat him to the checkered flag.
Larson led a total of 187 laps during the 200-lap event, with only two other drivers managing to lead a lap all day.
“It means a lot to finally get a National victory,” said Larson, who scored his first NASCAR National victory in only his 11th start. “I was pretty nervous on that last restart because I knew Joey was on a lot newer tires than me.
“I was able to beat him into one and hold on to the win. It was a great day. We didn’t make any changes to the truck. It was perfect from the start,” Larson said.
Logano said that he felt like he had the race won prior to the final restart, but spun his tires and allowed Larson to get away in the final two laps.
“I was so mad at myself. I spun (the tires). It was all my fault,” Logano said. “I felt like we should have won this race. We didn’t have the truck to win, but we had the strategy to win.”
Gaughan finished third after running in the top-five all day. Sauter finished fourth ahead of Chase Elliott, who scored his first top-five in his second series start.