CONCORD, N.C. – With a move that looked like it came straight from a superspeedway playbook, Kyle Larson won the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race and banked a $1 million payday at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Larson, who restarted sixth with 13 laps to go in the final stage, knifed his way up the middle with a huge push from Kevin Harvick and carved his way through three rows of traffic before passing Chase Elliott for the lead with an inside sweep in turn three.
From there, the Elk Grove, Calif., native held off late charges from both Harvick and Kyle Busch to notch his first All-Star Race victory and his first win in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car since September of 2017 at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway.
Larson won the 50-lap Monster Energy Open earlier in the day, coming from 18th in the 19-car field to take the victory. He is the first Open winner to cash the million-dollar check in All-Star Race history.
“I don’t even know what I’m going to do with the money!” Larson said after climbing from his car. “I didn’t really have any big plans set out. This is unbelievable. This whole day was up and down, from the B-main we were in to having to repair the car … but we had some great restarts and Harvick gave me a heck of a push there to get to the lead from the third row. That was huge.
“He did it again to get me past the 18 (Kyle Busch) on the final restart, and from there I just had to guess what they were going to do from behind me,” added Larson. “I’ve been close to winning this deal a couple of times, so it’s neat to finally close it out.”
After Kyle Busch, Harvick and Joey Logano won the first three stages of the event, the final 15-lap stage kicked off with a myriad of pit strategy plays and no clear-cut favorite to go home with the trophy.
Logano, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Kyle Busch stayed out on older tires to line up in the first two rows, while Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney took two tires and Larson landed back in the field after taking a full set of fresh Goodyear Eagles for his run to the checkered flag.
When the green flag waved, the front row of Elliott and Logano stayed side-by-side for an entire lap before Elliott got clear with a shove from Kyle Busch, but it wasn’t but one more revolution before Busch charged to the bottom to take the race lead away himself.
Contact between Blaney and a slowing Hamlin in turn three led to a three-car crash and the yellow flag that set up Larson’s winning move, stacking the field up for a restart that could just as easily have been seen at Talladega or Daytona.
Larson cut from the outside of row three at the green flag to the middle of the race track, quickly finding Harvick on his bumper at that point. The two locked together in a tandem draft and motored through a three-wide scramble, with Larson then ducking to Elliott’s inside to take the lead off the fourth corner.
A caution the next time around after Jones lost a tire and pounded the wall set up a final restart with 12 laps left, but Larson wasn’t going to be denied.
Though Kyle Busch briefly got around Larson to lead off turn two, Larson countered down the backstretch to retake the lead before they got back to the start/finish line and never looked back.
Harvick took second for good with six to go after Kyle Busch pounded the outside wall off turn four, and visibly closed to within two car lengths of Larson, but could not get to Larson’s bumper to challenge for the win in the final moments.
“This night was a letdown,” lamented Harvick. “That right there is how you take the fastest car in the field and don’t win the race with it. We spotted them the whole field and didn’t do our jobs. It was just unfortunate, with the way pit road went tonight, because it wasn’t even close to anyone having a car like we had.
“It was a great night on performance, but a bad night on pit road.”
Busch hung on for third despite his contact with the wall, while Logano rallied through the field to finish fourth after taking a fresh set of tires during the final caution.
Bubba Wallace, who like Larson raced his way into the All-Star Race through the Monster Energy Open, put on a stirring drive to complete the top five in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.