William Byron needed a green-white-checkered finish to win the opening stage and get the chance to race for the $1 million first prize. "It just feels like a big relief to finally get a win". "I honestly haven't had that much fun in a long time". But thanks to a Stage 3 win, Larson earned his shot and took full advantage as crossed the finish line first ahead of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
An emotional Bubba Wallace unsuccessfully tried to choke back tears, accepted a bear hug from buddy Ryan Blaney and gave a heartfelt TV interview from the garage. "I have failed at a lot of things in life recently, but I am working to make those things better".
Repeated contact between the cars of Newman and Bowyer on the cool-down lap ended with Bowyer turned into the outside wall.
'Where I come from, you get punched in the nose for that, and that's what he got, ' Bowyer said. "It showed that I guess I still got it".
Bowyer was upset because of some contact Newman made with his auto late in the race. He said Larson's team had the advantage of running - and winning - in the Monster Energy Open earlier Saturday to advance into the All-Star Race. "It was just unfortunate the way pit road went tonight because it wasn't even close of anybody having a good vehicle like we had tonight", he said. "I thought that was it", Wallace admitted. This time Wallace wasn't going to let anyone take victory away from him.
Harvick took the lead on the opening lap of the race that was scheduled for 85 laps but was extended to 88 as a result of the opening 30-lap stage going into overtime because of a late-stage caution for debris on lap 27.
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PIT PROBLEMS: Harvick said the race was a letdown since he had the fastest auto and failed to win. (Crew chief) Rodney (Childers) and all these guys on the team just did a great job, and it was unfortunate the way pit road went tonight because it wasn't even close for anybody having a good auto like we had tonight. "It was a great night for performance, just a bad night on pit road". Kurt Busch 18. Denny Hamlin 19.
However, after stage one, Bowyer didn't reach the top-10.
The strategy is a bit freewheeling in this race since it's a sprint for a $1,000,000 payday and the four stages will surely wreak havoc with pit strategy and shuffle the order quite frequently.
Larson wouldn't have been in the All-Star Race at all had he not won the Monster Energy Open, which decided three of the last four spots in the main event. Two laps of intense racing followed, with Wallace managing to best Suarez to hang onto the lead.
Busch and Harvick came close down the stretch and were often alongside each other in Larson's rearview during the final laps.
"All-Star racing, that's what it's all about", Logano said.