|Busch (54) nipped Larson at the line.|
After bulldozing his way to a controversial win in last month’s UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway last month, the 20-year-old Larson used a more subtle approach Saturday, closing on Busch in the late going before making a clear, high-side bid on the final lap. He bounced off both the wall and Busch on the final straightaway, before coming up less than four feet short at the line.
|Two in a row for Kyle|
"I was pretty aggressive at the 'Battle of the Beach' and I didn't want to have anything like that happen again," said Larson. "I don't race that way, and I didn't want to move him. I wanted to outrace him. I'd gain more respect that way, and it made for a better finish."
"He played it smart today,” said Busch in Victory Lane. “That was good on his end. I think a lot of people have been looking at him to see if he's going to be to a wrecker or a checker. Today, he didn't get the checkers, but that's how you get them. (If you) drive into the back of me, I'm going to be here for a while. And if he keeps coming up through the ranks, he's not going to have fun dealing with me every week.
"Now, I'm going to race him as hard as he raced me, but just as clean as he raced me, because he didn't put a fender on me all day."
Busch led twice for a total of 156 laps, including the final 64 circuits. He has now led the most laps in each of his last four Bristol wins. He extended his all-time NNS win record with his 53rd career checkered flag, and claimed his fifth Nationwide score at Thunder Valley, tying Kevin Harvick’s all-time mark.
Harvick finished fifth, trailing Busch, Larson, Brian Vickers and Sam Hornish, Jr., who extended his championship points lead to 22 points over pole sitter Justin Allgaier, who finished eighth.