Larson entered the weekend on a four-race winning streak – three points race wins in the NASCAR Cup Series and a victory in the All-Star Race.
He appeared on his way to make it five in a row on Saturday but while leading on the final lap, he cut a tire and hit the wall, which allowed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman to sweep by him and claim the win. Larson limped home in ninth.
On Sunday, the adversity only grew.
He started from the rear of the field because his No. 5 team moved to a backup car and early in the race, Larson received damage to the nose of his car during a restart.
By the end of Stage 2, Larson had made his way into the top-10 and in the final stage his crew chief, Cliff Daniels, had set him up on pit strategy that saw the potential to capitalize should the drivers in front of him fail to stretch their fuel to the finish.
It almost worked as Larson watched first William Byron and then Denny Hamlin dive to pit road in the final three laps for fuel.
Kyle Busch, however, made his last to the finish to claim his second win of the season as Larson ended up second.
“It’s surprising finish for us. Our (car) was really loose for a majority of the race, then we got a lot of nose damage there on one of the restarts,” Larson said. “Was off on speed, I felt like, after that.
“Cliff and everybody did a really, really good job managing the race, coached me through saving fuel there at the end. Was hoping that (Busch) was going to run out. I saw (Hamlin) running out. I was like, ‘Okay, they’re teammates, they got to be close to running out.’
“I thought we would be outside of the top-20. A lot of points throughout the race today; we’ll take it. Happy about the effort for sure all weekend.”
Larson said until he started saving fuel and saw how the final laps played out, he wasn’t sure he was going to salvage a strong finish out of second race of the Pocono doubleheader.
“Seemed like every point of the race, everything that happened in the race, nothing went my way,” he said.
“Restarts, just guys messing up in front of me, me getting shuffled out of the groove, bad lane choices on my part – everything didn’t go my way.”