Kyle Larson wins Dover Xfinity race for 2nd straight victory
By DAN GELSTON
DOVER, Del. (AP) Kyle Larson earned respect around the garage for his refusal last year to bump the race leader down the stretch for a win in the NASCAR Cup race at Dover.
A year later, Larson had no concerns about adhering to an unwritten race code. Larson started from the pole and easily won the Xfinity race at Dover International Speedway for his second straight victory in NASCAR's second-tier series.
Larson led 137 of 200 laps in the No. 42 Chevrolet and won for the third time in six races this season. Larson, a Cup regular, continued to shine for team owner Chip Ganassi.
Larson's Xfinity dominance is reminiscent of another Kyle - Kyle Busch - who would drop down from Cup and gobble up wins against NASCAR's developmental drivers.
"I'm trying to think of something smartass to say like he would," Larson said, laughing at the comparison.
Larson failed to pull off a bump-and-run on winner Matt Kenseth last year that could have sent him to victory lane. He could be a contender again; he topped the speed chart earlier in the day in the final practice for Sunday's race.
"I get all the credit but it's everyone at the shop that deserves all the credit," Larson said.
He was followed by Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Cole Custer and Ryan Reed.
"We want to be winning races but you have to put the work in to get there," Blaney said. "They've definitely done that. Just a little bit more is what we need."
William Byron finished sixth and picked up a $100,000 sponsor bonus as the top driver in the "Dash 4 Cash" program. The 19-year-old Byron is a Liberty University freshman and is widely considered one of the top prospects in NASCAR. The cash could buy a lot of books.
"Yeah, I guess," he said, laughing. "I don't know if that's how I'll spend it. But for sure, it can definitely buy a good education."
Byron, who won seven Truck Series races last season, is on the shortlist of drivers considered to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet next season at Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt will retire at the end of the season. Team owner Rick Hendrick needs a fourth driver to join a driver lineup that includes seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
Byron said he didn't know if he'd get promoted to Cup next season or in 2019.
For now, he'll mix working on his studies and his setups. He takes online classes at Liberty, which also sponsors his No. 9 Chevrolet.
"It's been an interesting challenge but I think that because Liberty University has been a sponsor of mine for so long, they really work well with me," he said. "They balance the classes. They know what my schedule is like. It's kind of neat to be a normal kid sometimes."
Series points leader Elliott Sadler was seventh. Defending race winner Erik Jones was forced out after 100 laps because of engine failure.
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Updated June 3, 2017