By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – As the Monster Energy All-Star Race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway moved into view, another new race format, and an alternative ‘option’ tire left many questioning what would unfold. One driver that seemed poised to be up front all night long was Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Kyle Larson.

In the only practice of the weekend, Larson was fastest on both prime and option tires. Larson was also perfect in the unique-style of qualifying for All-Star race that included green flag pit stop. His No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS team earned the pole after it was the only mistake-free team in the second round of qualifying.

Larson proved to be a force to deal with from the drop of the green flag. He dominated Stage 1, winning by well over two seconds.

Stage 2 was nearly a replay of Stage 1; however, this time Larson was pulling away from Johnson who was on the faster and softer ‘option’ tires. He won the stage by three seconds over Johnson, despite the different tires.

A broken jack bolt slowed the pit stop between Stages 2 and 3, forcing Larson further back while on the ‘option’ tires. He started sliding back before stabilizing around the fifth position. Larson finished out the stage inside the top five.

On the final pit stop, Larson was a part of a four-wide drag race off pit road. He ended up fourth off pit road. With Brad Keselowski staying on track, Larson restarted in the fifth position.

On the restart, Kyle Busch forced his way below Keselowski. Larson followed suit, making Keselowski’s car get loose. Larson emerged in third, just behind Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson and Larson battled throughout the remaining 10 laps. On the final lap, Larson dove below Johnson entering turn three and washed up, blocking Johnson. When they crossed the line, Larson was in the second position, just missing the $1 Million prize.

A disappointed Larson quoted World of Outlaws driver Donny Schatz as he explained what happened,

“I saw an interview Donny Schatz did last night. They said, Oh, second is good. But, no, he said second sucks ass. Today it sucks ass. We had a dominant car all race. I thought initially our pit crew struggled that last stop.”

“Our jack post on the right side broke off at some point throughout the race. So the jackman had to make a couple more pumps to get the car up. It slowed the stop down enough that we got beat off pit road by three cars. That was kind of the difference in the race for us.”

Now Larson and his No. 42 Target team will look to carry tonight’s speed into next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.



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