Larson wins Nationwide Series race in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE – Kyle Larson isn’t having a sophomore slump.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series’ 2013 Rookie of the Year won the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24. The victory was the second this season for Larson, 21, who lives in Huntersville and drives the No. 42 Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Larson led during the final 56 laps, and 82 of the final 83. Just as impressively, he held off late rushes by veteran drivers Brad Keselowsi and Kyle Busch.

“It was about perfect for us,” Larson said. "It was nice looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing them get smaller and smaller each lap. It's not very often that you see the 22 (Keselowski) and the 54 (Busch) get smaller in your mirror.”

Larson passed Keselowski on Lap 118 and led the rest of the way. A day later, Larson finished 18th (among 43) in the Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, despite being forced to begin from the back of the field because he was driving a backup car. Larson is in the running for the Sprint Cup rookie of the year award, too.

 

Hall of Fame class named

CHARLOTTE – The NASCAR Hall of Fame announced its 2015 class of inductees - Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. Also, Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to NASCAR. Next year’s Induction Day is scheduled for Jan. 30.

 

New leader in points standings

CHARLOTTE – Chase Elliott, the Nationwide Series points leader heading into last week’s race at Charlotte, was sidelined when his car hit debris. Elliott finished 37th and slipped to third in the standings behind Regan Smith and second-place Elliott Sadler (five points behind Smith). Sadler, in 11 Nationwide starts, has a victory, five top-five finishes and eight top-10s.

 

Joe Gibbs dominates standings

HUNTERSVILLE – Joe Gibbs Racing has three of the top eight spots in the Nationwide Series owner points race.

The No. 54 car has a healthy 42-point lead through 11 races, and has finished in the top 10 in every race. Gibbs’ No. 11 car is sixth and the No. 20 ranks eighth.

 

Aiming for a championship

HUNTERSVILLE – Matt Kenseth, despite no victories through 11 Sprint Cup races, is second to Jeff Gordon in the points race. He trails by 11 points after finishing third in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

“I'm a little disappointed, but I feel like we're gaining on it,” Kenseth said.

 

RACER RANKINGS

We rank Herald Weekly-area drivers in the racing world:

 

1. Kyle Larson – Won last week’s Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Huntersville resident was the circuit’s 2013 Rookie of the Year and is on the way to a solid second season.

2. Matt Kenseth – Had a solid two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing, finishing third in the Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 and second in the Sprint All-Star Race.

3. Kyle Busch – Finished third in the Nationwide race last week. Won the truck series race a week before that. A Sprint Cup contender, too. Solid in all formats.

4. Elliott Sadler – He’s second in the Nationwide Series points race for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing, five points behind Regan Smith.

5. Paul Menard – The Cornelius resident is improving with an eighth-place finish in the Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600, two weeks after being sixth in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. Quietly moving up the standings.