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Sprint Cup Series


Larson, Austin Dillon put on show at Pocono

RELATED: Race results | Standings
MORE: Chase bubble analyzed | Chase Grid

 

LONG POND, Pa. -- Two drivers still trying to break into Victory Lane for the first time in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series put on perhaps the best show during Monday's weather-shortened, rain-delayed Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.

 

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, and Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, ran nose-to-tail and side-by-side then nose-to-tail again in a heated, and entertaining battle for the lead at Pocono.

 

Eventually, the two made contact and slid up the track, and Joey Logano (in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford) pounced, leaving both to gather themselves and continue.

 

That particular incident took place just as the race hit the scheduled halfway point. But the two weren't done.

 

Larson regained the lead during a later round of pit stops; Dillon was seventh.

 

And then Dillon was sixth, fifth ... and with 47 laps to go he was third and pressing Kyle Busch for second.

 

With 43 laps remaining, Dillon had the spot and Larson once again in his sights.

 

Unfortunately, a second heated battled failed to materialize -- green-flag pit stops soon separated the two as Larson gave up the lead to hit pit road a lap sooner than his rival.

 

Both appeared to be making their way back to the front when NASCAR officials called a halt to the action due to a lack of visibility -- fog had blanketed much of the track and made it impossible for officials and spotters to keep tabs on the on-track action.

 

Approximately 50 minutes after displaying the red flag to halt the race and wait out the weather delay, the race was called official after the completion of 138 of the scheduled 160 laps.

 

At that point, Larson was sixth and Dillon 13th.

 

"I don't think you ever want to expect contact, but obviously we were racing really hard," Larson said of the initial incident. "I was doing all I could to stay in front of him, and he was doing all he could to get by me. 

 

"We battled hard down the frontstretch one time, and then he got back to my inside into Turn 3. I left him plenty of room. I was just going to try and run side-by-side with him again and try and slow him down on the frontstretch. I guess he got loose underneath me and got into our door. 

 

"That was pretty frustrating at the time, but it happens to not even really matter. That part of the race doesn't matter at all. It doesn't mean one thing to me."

 

Damage to his car appeared minimal. Larson led four times for 37 laps.

 

"I think all they really had to do was pull the left-rear fender out and that was it and we were kind of back to normal," he said. "I felt like I didn't have as much straightaway speed ... maybe I have a little bit more damage than what we think, but other than that it (was) OK."

 

Dillon, who started 12th, credited his crew -- led by crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe -- with making timely adjustments to his car throughout the race.

 

When the race failed to resume, the 26-year-old found it "frustrating."

 

"Man, we had a super-fast car, especially in Turn 3, and could really make up a lot of time on everybody there.

 

"It was fun racing that No. 42 (Larson). He bought me through the short chute of (Turn) 3, and I got loose under him. I knew if I downshifted I was going to really break loose, so I just kind of kept in fourth and we got loose together.

 

"But, it's just frustrating. We've got to get better on all aspects and the good thing is that we had a fast enough car to win today, and I'm proud of that."

 

The results kept Larson 15th in points, and in the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot with five races remaining before the field is officially set.

 

Dillon's finish strengthened his hold on a potential Chase berth as he improved one position, to 11th, in the standings.

 

MORE: Photos of the pass, more from Monday at Pocono

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