While Matt Kenseth smiled, Kyle Larson was left to shout after Dover finish

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

After the duel between desperate drivers had ended, Matt Kenseth was asked if his victory Sunday at Dover International Speedway removed the sting from previous defeats.

Kenseth, who snapped a 17-race winless streak, smiled.

If only runner-up Kyle Larson had gone through such struggles. Instead, the driver stamped as the sport’s next great talent when he arrived full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2014, is winless in 87 career starts.

The 23-year-old raced with the hunger of a driver looking for his first win Sunday. When challenged, he fought to stay in front. When behind, he charged to get back into the lead.

Some may argue he was too impatient when racing Carl Edwards with less than 50 laps left in the 400-lap race. After they made contact, Edwards’ slammed head-on into the inside wall and the SAFER barrier, leaving Edwards to ask who was under him. Told who it was, Edwards responded on his team’s radio “What an idiot.’’

Told Larson apologized on the radio after the incident, Edwards told FS1 it was  “nice of Kyle to say something.’’

Larson later said of the incident: “Not sure if Carl got loose, went to block me, or if I came up or what. I got into him, turned him into the inside wall. So I feel bad about that, if it was my fault. Even if it’s not my fault, I feel bad about that.’’

Larson regrouped and hunted Kenseth when the race resumed. Then Larson faced a challenge from Chase Elliott, a rookie seeking his first win and a driver some look at with the same fawning gaze they shared for Larson two years ago.

Their battle lasted a few laps. They ran side-by-side and nose-to-tail, whetting the appetite of fans of what they might see for years to come if both drivers reach the level of success predicted.

Larson finally broke free and chased Kenseth, who led by one second with 14 laps to go. Kenseth’s team had changed only two tires on its last stop; Larson’s team changed four tires. Advantage Larson. Kenseth’s lead fell to a half-second with 10 laps to go, then one third of a second with five laps to go.

Larson dived under Kenseth, and they ran side-by-side, but Larson couldn’t surge ahead with three laps to go. Larson tried to go high the next time through Turns 1 and 2, but it didn’t work. By then, it was too late. Larson could not get close enough to make another move.

“God!’’ Larson shouted on his radio after finishing second. “Man!”

Car owner Chip Ganassi tried to console his stallion.

“Good job today, kid,’’ Ganassi radioed Larson. “Good job. Our day is coming.’’

“If I didn’t have to race (Elliott), I think I would have had him,’’ Larson said.

“Yeah, you would have,’’ Ganassi said.

Instead, Larson was left with a runner-up finish after being a lap down early in the event. It was his best finish in a season that has had few highlights, and his best finish since another runner-up in the Chase race at Kansas in fall 2014.

In an era where putting the bumper is becoming more the norm in racing, why wasn’t Larson more aggressive with his front bumper against Kenseth?

“I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times,’’ Larson said. “I may have even got into him once. I didn’t want to do anything dirty. I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect.  I try to do the same with him.

“So I was just going to try and race him as hard as I could without getting into him to beat him. He’s sitting in Victory Lane, and I’m not, so maybe I need to do something a little bit different, but nothing crazy to take him out or anything.

“I’m still early in my career, so I don’t want to make anybody mad or make any rivals. You can see, there’s some drama in the sport, and it takes drivers years to get over it.’’

How much longer, though, will it take for Larson to score that first victory?

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.