Sam Hornish Jr. fourth at Bristol

JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer Published:

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- Kyle Larson's first chance to get a big win in NASCAR ended with him claiming a controversial win.

With a shot at grabbing his first Nationwide Series win Saturday, he wasn't going to make that same mistake again.

Especially not against Kyle Busch.

Meanwhile, Sam Hornish Jr. cushioned his Nationwide points lead by finishing fourth and now leads second-place Justin Allgaier by 22 points in the points standings.

"I didn't get a good restart," said Hornish. "It was my bad, and I had to try to make my way back up through it. We had a real good car over the long run, but I just didn't have enough for them when we needed it. To be able to stay within sight of the 54 most of the day was pretty good. I just need to make sure that we thank everybody at Alliance Truck Parts for helping us out. All these guys on the 12. There was a lot of moving around with lap traffic today, which certainly made it intriguing. I think about every accident that happened we were within eyesight of it and trying to get slowed down, so there ought to be some good in-car footage of it.

"It was so hard to pass today. You either had to get it done in traffic or on restarts, so everybody is leaning on each other. We could get a couple people and hold our own on the short stuff, so you just needed to be in the right lane on restarts. (Crew chief) Greg Erwin and all the guys who work on this Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang did a fantastic job for me today. It's one of those days where I wish we could have gotten a little bit more, but starting third on that last restart and being on the bottom with 120-some lap tires, it was real easy to spin them. I can say whatever I want to about that, but the 54 and 32 didn't spin their tires, so I've got to work on that a little bit."

Larson stalked Busch over the closing laps around Bristol Motor Speedway waiting to make a move. It came as they closed in on the finish line, and Larson made a last-gasp push on the high side that fell just short.

But in chasing the win the right way, the 20-year-old Larson cleaned up some of the criticism that had followed him from Daytona last month after spinning C.E. Falk III on the final lap of the "Battle at the Beach" late model race.

"You certainly want to try to win races the right way," Busch said. "He played it smart today. That was good on his end. I think a lot of people have been looking at him to try to see if he's going to be to a wrecker or a checker. Today he didn't get the checkers, but that's how you get them. You drive into the corner, or drive into the back of me, I'm going to be here for a while and if he keeps coming up through the ranks, he's not going to have fun dealing with me every week.

"But right now? I'm going to race him as hard as he raced me, but just as clean as he raced me because he didn't put a fender on me all day."

Larson had his win over Falk in the back of his head during the closing laps at Bristol as he looked for a place to try to grab the win. Although he has received high praise from Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne as NASCAR's next big star, his move in the "Battle of the Beach" caused many top Sprint Cup drivers to openly criticize Larson.

"I was pretty aggressive at the "Battle of the Beach" and I didn't want to have anything like that happen again and have more people look at me," Larson said. "I don't race that way and didn't want to move (Busch). I wanted to outrace him. I'd gain a little more respect that way, and it made for a better finish, I think."

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