Kyle Larson steady at New Hampshire in runner-up effort

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On Friday, Kyle Larson said he wouldn’t be disappointed if he did not have his inaugural Sprint Cup win before this season ended.

But if he continues to run the way he’s been running and still isn’t able to seal the deal in the final eight races of 2014, one wonders if he’ll get at least a little frustrated.

The rookie star once again dueled up front with the Chasers today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and eventually dusted Kevin Harvick in the green-white-checkered restart to pick up a second-place finish.

That equals his second back in the spring at Auto Club Speedway as his best Cup result so far.

“Didn’t think we’d be a second-place finisher,” Larson said afterwards. “We weren’t a second-place car by any means – Top-5 car, I thought. [It was] crazy how many cautions there were at the end. [I] finally figured it out the last time, was able to get to second, hold off Kevin for two laps to get second.

“[I’m] happy about the finish. Hopefully, someday soon, I’ll get one spot better. Like I said last week, all these [races] coming close, finishing second or third, is going to make that win feel really special.”

Larson was unable to reel in today’s winner, Joey Logano, as the Penske pilot was simply too strong during the late restarts on fresher tires.

But considering today’s finish and his third-place run last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, it’s clear that Larson and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team want some of the spotlight that’s being shined on those in the running for the championship.

When asked if his finishes in the first two Chase races had him thinking “what if,” Larson admitted that it was “a little bit disappointing” to not be involved in the post-season but was still glad that he and teammate Jamie McMurray (who finished fourth today) have been running well in this final stretch.

“I know other teams that are in the Chase notice that and I’m sure they’re worried about us for next season already,” Larson asserted.

Larson began to make a serious move toward the lead pack in the disjointed second half of the race after early trouble with handling on his car.

“The first couple runs, I was really loose on exit of the corner, tight in the center, loose on my entry,” he said. “After that, all three parts of the corner were fixed.

“Once we got the car driving good, we just had to miss those wrecks. We gambled on fuel a little bit, but all the cautions worked out, so it wasn’t really a gamble very much.”

Larson said he didn’t exactly know what adjustments were made to his car, but it’s clear that they worked. With 75 to go, he was running in the Top 5 and remained in that bracket for the rest of the race.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.