"We were both playing games a little bit and he just took off better than I did", Larson said. But when it mattered, I was actually ahead of him by a couple inches. I was just cruising trying to log some laps, get to the end. "I did everything I could to beat him, and I did it".
A fantastic effort from rookie driver Daniel Suarez to finish third, and JGR teammate Matt Kenseth - who won last year's AAA 400 Drive For Autism - ensured an all JGR second row, with the team having all four cars in the top 10 with Denny Hamlin rounding it out in that tenth spot. Johnson would join Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip as the only drivers to win at the same track 11 times.
"I was very fortunate to have a similar experience when I tied him with three consecutive championships and he surprised me at the banquet", said Johnson, the seven-time champion who wore a commemorative helmet during Sunday's race honoring Yarborough. "To pass the 42 (Larson) and to pass the 48 in two laps, it's not going to happen". "I'm kind of learning that as the days go on, when my son is two years old, I see where that came from". It was also his sixth top 10 at Dover in the last seven races at the DE track. Kyle Larson dominated and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover on Saturday.
Sunday's AAA 400 Drive for Autism is a 400-lap event, putting it on par with Richmond regarding the points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories. On lap 66, Keselowski and Busch made contact in turn one, knocking Keselowski out of the race. Kyle Larson led 241 of the 400 laps around the Monster Mile.
Just no wins this season, and he's not alone at JGR. Larson led for 85 laps last spring at Dover and finished second. Another Ford contender, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., had trouble early and was the first auto retired on the day. He leads the Cup Series in stage wins (8) and playoff bonus points (18). By the end of the first stage, Johnson had moved up to fifth. 81-122; K. Larson 123-146; M. McDowell 147-150; K. Larson 151-194; Kyle Busch 195; K. Larson 196-211; M. Truex Jr. We were a lot better than Jimmie then.
"This place is hard", he said.
"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.
He saw David Ragan crash on Lap 398 and cause the 14th caution of the day. Truex also won the second stage, with Johnson, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Larson, Harvick, Chase Elliott, Blaney, Jones, and Kahne in tow.
Larson had a multi-second lead over Johnson with four laps to go and appeared headed for an easy win. We had a couple of runs where we got off; maybe some bad tires or something.
Johnson snuck into the top five around the 50-lap mark and stayed there for most of the afternoon. Johnson started the race in the back because of an unapproved gear change.
"I haven't had much luck in my NASCAR career", Larson said.
"It means a lot to me". He just took off better than I did. Ty Dillon started a huge wreck behind the leaders that brought out the final yellow flag that ended the race once it was determined that Johnson had indeed crossed the restart line in time to make the result official.
Truex was caught a lap down after a caution flew during a round of green flag pitstops late in the race, and then had to work back to the lead lap before having a shot to race down Larson and eventual victor Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps.