Kyle Larson was on the losing end of a hard battle with Kurt Busch for the win at Kansas Speedway.
The reigning series champion controlled the race off the final restart with 33 laps to go, charging around last year’s race winner Kyle Busch in Turn 3. Another Busch, 2004 series champion Kurt, got around his younger brother and then chased down Larson with 10 laps remaining to begin challenging the Hendrick Motorsports driver for the lead. Busch got underneath Larson with nine laps to go and, after a one-lap side-by-side battle, Busch prevailed in Turns 1 and 2 when Larson hit the wall.
Although the two were racing in tight quarters, Larson said there was no contact between his car and Busch. Hitting the wall resulted from trying to do all he could to keep the Toyota at bay.
“We were racing for the win there,” Larson said. “He never got into me, so I’m trying to squeeze throttle to get position on him and just got tight. That was fun racing with Kurt. The last half of the race — I was trying hard the whole time. I about spun out in front of him there at some point in the third stage and then we just kept fighting through it.”
Larson nearly spun in front of Busch with 86 to go, having tried to take the lead from him in Turn 2. The Hendrick driver dove underneath the Toyota and came up in front to take the outside lane away, but the car got loose. The No. 5 car started to spin and bounced the right rear off the wall. Busch drove back around for the position.
Larson credited Busch with having the best car in the AdventHealth 400, adding that, had it been any other driver chasing him down, he believes it might have held them off.
“I did what I could,” Larson said. “I thought with me getting out to the lead I’d be OK. Once we started sniffing traffic I lost a little bit more and his car stayed turning well. The Toyotas just had a lot of speed today. It was fun, tough racing.”
Larson caught the wall multiple times throughout Sunday’s race but it never hindered his efforts. He led three times for 29 laps.
“Thanks to my team for building me a war machine,” Larson said. “I hit the wall a lot today and just struggled. People could put air on me and [I’d] get really tight and I hit the wall. We’ll work on that and figure it out, but [I’m] happy with my car. It was hard to [fend off Kyle Busch] and when Kurt got by I knew it was going to be really hard to hold him off. I did my best but came up one spot short.”