NASCAR at California: Kyle Larson wins Auto Club 400 to end string of runner-ups

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Kyle Larson is a bridesmaid no more.

NASCAR at California: Kyle Larson wins Auto Club 400 to end string of runner-ups

Kyle Larson is a bridesmaid no more.

The wait is over.Kyle Larson is finally in victory lane.

After three straight second-place finishes, Larson won Sunday’s Auto Club 400 after surviving four late restarts that easily could have cost him.Brad Keselowskifinished second, followed byClint Bowyer,Martin Truex Jr.andJoey Logano.

MORE:Dale Earnhardt Jr. forced to start from rear in Auto Club 400

It’s Larson’s second career win and first since he won at Michigan last August.

“This is just amazing,"Larson said."We have been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I’ve been watching all the TV [everyone saying,]‘He doesn’t know how to win.' But we knew how to win today, so that was good.”

Oh, boy, did Larson earn it.

With Larson leading with seven laps to go, he decided to pit while the race was under caution.He had to restartfourth with five to go, but shortly passed drivers on older tires to regain the lead. Larson even survived another caution with two laps that saw him briefly in second place behind

As the race winner, Larson receives 40 points and five playoff points. He also earned 10 points by winning Stage 1.

Larson ended upsweepingthe weekend as he won Saturday'sXfinity Series race, too.

No NASCAR driver has been better this season than Larson. He sits atop the NASCAR standings, 29 points ahead of Chase Elliott who's in second. Larson has four top-fivefinishes in five races. The only race he finished outside of the top fivewas the Daytona 500, which he was leading on the final lap until he ran out of gas.

MORE: Matt Kenseth involved in scary wreck Sunday

Here are the full results.

  • Kyle Larson

  • Brad Keselowski

  • Clint Bowyer

  • Martin Truex Jr.

  • Joey Logano

  • Jamie McMurray

  • Daniel Suarez

  • Kyle Busch

  • Ryan Blaney

  • Chase Elliott

  • Austin Dillon

  • Erik Jones

  • Kevin Harvick

  • Denny Hamlin

  • Ryan Newman

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  • AJ Allmendinger

  • Ty Dillon

  • Aric Almirola

  • Kasey Kahne

  • Jimmie Johnson

  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  • Trevor Bayne

  • Kurt Busch

  • Chris Buescher

  • Danica Patrick

  • Landon Cassill

  • Paul Menard

  • Matt DiBenedetto

  • Corey LaJoie

  • David Ragan

  • Cole Whitt

  • Michael McDowell

  • Reed Sorenson

  • Timmy Hill

  • Matt Kenseth

  • Gray Gaulding

  • Derrike Cope

  • Jeffrey Earnhardt

Race notes

— It was another mediocre day for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He was forced to start from the rear after a cut was found in his right-front tire. Earnhardt qualified 18th, but NASCAR requires all drivers to start on the same tires they used for qualifying. If they have to replace damaged tires, then they're forced to start from the rear.

Earnhardt ended up finishing 16th, which means five races into the 2017 season, he's yet to finish in the top 10. He's finished 37th, 30th, 16th, 14th and now 16th since returning to NASCAR after a serious concussion

— Truex ran strong all afternoon but his crew had trouble changing a tire and came out pit road late. Other than that mishap, he was neck-and-neck with Larson all day and even won Stage 2.

— It was a good day for Joey Logano who finished fifth despite difficult circumstances. Logano was forced to start from the rear because he was unable to pass inspection for qualifying.

— Keselowski's second-place finish is surprising, too. He fought off a pair of early wrecks to finish second.

— Matt Kenseth's car got loose on Lap 185 of the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, which caused him to spin out and hit the wall extremely hard. Kenseth immediately radioed in to say he was OK, although you could tell in his voice that he was really shaken up. Watch the video here.

The race was made up of three stages. Stage 1 ended on Lap 60, Stage 2 on Lap 120 and the final stage ended the race at Lap 200.

Larson won Stage 1 after going back and forth with Martin Truex Jr. The pair led 55 of the 60-lap stage with Larson leading 43 laps and Truex leading 12.

Top 10 Stage 1 finishers are below.

Kyle Larson 10
Martin Truex Jr. 9
Chase Elliott 8
Jamie McMurray 7
Kyle Busch 6
Clint Bowyer 5
Joey Logano 4
Erik Jones 3
Ryan Blaney 2
Denny Hamlin 1

The pair did a switcheroo in Stage 2. Truex won the stage, while Larson came in second. Truex led 55 of 60 laps after he took the lead on pit road on Lap 64.

Landon Cassill

Top 10 Stage 2 finishers are below.

Martin Truex Jr.10
Kyle Larson 9
Chase Elliott 8
Clint Bowyer 7
Erik Jones 6
Jamie McMurray 5
Kyle Busch 3
Joey Logano 4
Denny Hamlin 2
Brad Keselowski 1

Drivers will head to Virginia next weekend for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

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