Kyle Larson got a push to the front from Kevin Harvick in the final stage, then held off the defending champion to win the NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Larson wasn't part of the elite field when the day began, racing his way in by winning the Monster Energy Open earlier at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Now, he's got $1 million for the win and plenty to celebrate in a season in which he's had only three top-10s and his biggest highlight was a frightening, airborne crash at Talladega Superspeedway in April.
"It feels amazing," Larson said. "I came close to winning a couple of years ago. It feels good to close it out."
Larson did it with a decisive shove through the pack by Harvick, a two-time All-Star champion who was eager for a third. Larson was sixth in the next-to-last restart with 12 laps left when he found enough space to squeeze between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Harvick jumped on Larson's bumper and powered him into the lead.
Larson had not reached Victory Lane since winning four times in 2017, his most successful Cup season.
"I've had a lot of bad luck," Larson said. "These last few weeks have gone pretty smooth for us. To get a win, a big win, hopefully this is the turning point in our season."
Kyle Busch won the opening stage, Harvick the second, Logano the third.
Alonso on cutoff line
McLaren's return to the Indianapolis 500 neared a total collapse after Fernando Alonso failed to lock himself into the field on the first day of qualifying.
It took Alonso four attempts just to crack the key top 30 first-day standard, but he was knocked out by Graham Rahal, the final driver to make his run as the pistol was fired to signal the end of the session.
Spencer Pigot of Ed Carpenter Racing led a Chevrolet sweep at the front of the field, posting a four-lap average of 230.083 miles per hour. The Team Penske contingent of Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden followed.
Rookie Colton Herta cracked the top nine on his first qualifying attempt but wasn't satisfied and ran again, jumping to fifth with the fastest Honda.
The rest of the Fast 9 is Pigot's teammates Ed Jones and Ed Carpenter in Chevys, then Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais in Hondas.
Indianapolis expecting rain Sunday. Should the slowest six not get a chance to qualify, IndyCar will run the shootout for the last row of three entries Monday. Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion, watched Rahal knock him into Sunday's last-gasp group, hopped from his car and briskly walked down pit lane. He stopped to sign a few autographs but seemed frustrated with the week.
"We didn't have the speed," the Spaniard said. "If we don't make it, it is because we don't deserve it."
McLaren returned to the Indy 500 this year for the first time since the 1970s as an expected rehearsal for a full-time IndyCar entrant.