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Sep 16, 2013 - 06:31 AM
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2013 Chicagoland II: Kyle Larson NASCAR Nationwide Race Recap
Posted by: newsla on Sep 16, 2013 - 06:27 AM
2013 Chicagoland II: Kyle Larson NASCAR Nationwide Race Recap

Kyle Larson appeared to be on his way to the greatest comeback of the season as he overcame a spin in qualifying which resulted in a 39th-place starting position. Larson was fighting for the win in the top five, but his bad luck streak for the day continued when he experienced a smoking tire while running second. Dropping to the rear of the top 10, Larson's tire eventually gave way, causing extensive damage to the SNICKERS Bites Chevrolet, forcing him to retire from the race with a 32nd-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.


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Larson's weekend started off strong when the 21-year-old rookie paced the opening practice session at Chicagoland Speedway. Confident he had one of the best cars in the field, Larson took to the track for Saturday morning's qualifying session. Unfortunately, the No. 32 SNICKERS Bites Chevy spun before a timed lap was recorded, and though the car was undamaged, he was relegated to a 39th-place starting position.

Taking the green flag from the last row of the field, Larson began a march to the front, gaining 16 positions in the first four laps. Although his No. 32 Chevrolet was a little tight in the opening run, Larson had worked his way into the top 15 before the first caution flag of the day was displayed on lap 25. While under yellow, crew chief Trent Owens called his driver into the pits for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. With several competitors opting for fuel-only or two-tire stops, Larson lined up 17th for the lap-29 restart.

Larson continued to advance through the field on a long green-flag run, and by lap 61 he was running ninth as one of the fastest cars on the track. Relaying to his crew that his SNICKERS Bites machine was beginning to get a little tight once again, Larson would have another shot at adjustments during a green-flag pit stop on lap 79. The No. 32 crew serviced the car with four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment, sending Larson back onto the track in the seventh position.

Cracking the top five on lap 131, Larson was third when a yellow flag slowed the field on lap 159. Making his final planned pit stop of the event, Larson brought the No. 32 down pit road for four tires, fuel and another track-bar adjustment, maintaining his position for the lap-164 restart. After the green flag waved, Larson easily made the pass for second and appeared to be on his way to passing the leader when smoke was briefly visible coming off the left-rear tire. Both Owens and the team's spotter assessed their vehicle and did not see any reason for a tire rub, so Larson remained on the track to continue to diagnose his car. Larson dropped back to the seventh position and was just relaying that he could smell smoke again when the left-rear tire failed on lap 175. With extensive damage from the blowout, Larson drove his SNICKERS Bites Chevy into the garage where the crew determined that it was irreparable in the remaining laps. Retiring from the race with 25 laps remaining, Larson was ultimately credited with a 32nd-place finish.

"We were really good today," said Larson after retiring from the race. "Starting 39th was unfortunate, but I really didn't have a whole lot of trouble getting up through the field to the front. We were great once we got up there, and I think we had a real shot at the win until the tire went out. We just had too much damage to get back out on the track. I have to thank Trent [Owens] and all of my guys for giving me a really good car this weekend. It was great from the time we unloaded. We'll put this weekend behind us and hopefully we can regain our momentum next weekend in Kentucky."

The NASCAR Nationwide Series next heads to Kentucky Speedway for the Kentucky 300 on Saturday, September 21. Live coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT on ESPNEWS.

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