FONTANA, Calif. – Kyle Larson persevered through four late restarts to win at Fontana on Sunday, adding his second career victory to his overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series points lead.
Larson finished second in each of the past three races, but the Sacramento area native’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was the class of the field at Auto Club Speedway for the second straight day. He also won the Xfinity Series race Saturday.
“This is just amazing,” Larson said. “We have been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I’ve been watching all the TV, like, ‘He doesn’t know how to win.’ But we knew how to win today, so that was good.”
After surging up from fourth to first with four new tires before the final caution on the 2-mile track, he made one last outstanding restart and cruised through two overtime laps to win.
Brad Keselowski was second, and Clint Bowyer came in third for his best finish since June 2015 and his first top-five finish in 52 races. Martin Truex Jr. was fourth after challenging Larson aggressively, and Joey Logano roared up to fifth.
Larson is only the second driver in Fontana history to win from the pole, joining six-time race champion Jimmie Johnson, who did it in 2008.
Larson, 24, also became just the fourth driver to sweep a weekend at Fontana.
“He’s on a really nice roll, and it takes everything,” said Keselowski, who surged into second after two outstanding late restarts. “This is a sport of speed, execution and luck, and when you’re on a roll like that, you’ve got all three on your side.”
Johnson, Keselowski and Phoenix winner Ryan Newman all sustained minor damage early on, but Larson was fast from the start.
Larson won the first stage of 60 laps, earning his first stage victory of the season, but lost his lead after getting too close to the wall on pit road. Truex won the second stage, but Larson slipped past him to reclaim the lead on the first lap of the final stage.
The leaders pitted under caution with 20 laps to go, but Truex had his first slow stop all day and slipped five spots down the field to seventh. Larson won the race off pit road and had a fine restart, but Matt Kenseth slid hard into the wall moments later after minor contact with Truex.
After the restart with 12 laps to go, Larson flew past Kyle Busch and built a decent cushion, only to slow again when Cory LaJoie spun out. Larson pitted for tires along with most of the field, while only Hamlin, Truex and McMurray stayed out.
Larson barely got back into the lead before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun on contact from Trevor Bayne to force the fourth caution, necessitating overtime.