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Kyle Larson Misses Out on Dominant Atlanta Win

NASCAR NASCAR Cup Series

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. — At one point, Kyle Larson had more than an 11-second lead as he showed the way in Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. By the checkered flag, however, Larson was bumped from his lead position and denied Victory Lane.

Leading 268 of 325 laps, Larson was the car to beat throughout both stages and the closing run of the race. With 20 laps to go, however, second-place regular Ryan Blaney began inching into Larson’s 2.5-second advantage. And with seven laps to go, Blaney completed the pass, knocking Larson to an eventual second-place result.

After such a commanding day aboard his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Larson was full of disappointment leaving the 1.5-mile track.

“[Blaney] was fast there and I just wanted to maintain that gap that I had,” Larson said. “I had to run in the faster part of the track and use my stuff up. He was just a lot better than me that late in the run.

“I hate to lead a lot of laps and lose. It was a really good car that we brought to the track. Our Chevy was stupid fast there are a long time. I don’t know if we got that much worse, or he got that much better.”

Dominating Atlanta in 2019 without a victory, Larson tied his best track finish in second, doing so previously in 2017. Despite the experience, the tire wear in the final run was too much to overcome.

“[Blaney] just got a lot better at that last stage,” he said. “It changed up my flow of the race. I could get out to such a big lead and take care of my stuff at the bottom, where it was slower but I could take care of my tires.

With a win already in the bag at Las Vegas earlier this month, Larson has been happy with the consistent, prevalent speed in the early stages of his first year with HMS.

Photos by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires

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