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A little after 5 p.m. ET Sunday, Kyle Larson ran over 230 mph, setting a rookie record for the fastest Indianapolis 500 qualifying speed.

About five hours later, some 500 miles away, he was just as good in a stock car running 130 mph. From the back of the field in the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race, Larson jumped to fourth, threatening for the win on a night it was impossible to pass.

It was an impressive, back-to-back performance in two different types of cars. Keep in mind Larson has never started an IndyCar race in his career, mastering that chassis with limited track time before jumping into his Cup car with zero practice.

What a warmup for 1,100 miles of racing next Sunday.

"It just makes it all mean something more," Larson said. "To be lined up on the second row of the Indianapolis 500 is pretty crazy. Yeah, I just can't believe it, really."

It was a thrilling side story to what otherwise became a sleepy All-Star Race despite the $1 million top prize. Larson's surprise success at Indy meant he was in a race of his own to make it to both events; dozens of press and millions of fans tracked his every move.

Larson landed with plenty of time to spare even though NASCAR pushed back the start of its race to nearly 8:30 ET. After some pre-race interviews, including live with Fox Sports 1, he promptly jumped inside his No. 5 Chevrolet and marched through the field in a race he dominated just one year ago.

By the final 50 laps, Larson had snuck inside the top five, rising as high as third with the freshest tires among the frontrunners. That's when the clock struck midnight in a Cinderella type of evening, a loose condition keeping him from challenging winner Joey Logano.

"I thought we were in a great position to win," Larson said. "I thought for sure we would win, but it just didn't work out."

The run still leaves him brimming with confidence entering the most grueling weekend of his career. Expectations are now raised for Indy, where no NASCAR driver attempting the double has finished as high (fifth) as Larson qualified. Only Tony Stewart has finished top 10 in both races, running ninth at Indy in 1999 before finishing fourth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte hours later.

If this weekend is any indication, don't bet against Larson to set a new standard next Sunday.

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Green: Joey Logano. Oh yeah, someone actually won the All-Star Race. Dominating out front, Logano turned around a sorry season by leading all but one of the night's 200 laps. The outcome was never in doubt for a driver who's got only one top five this season in points-paying competition.

"I wish it was for points," Logano said, "But a million bucks is still a lot of money and I feel great about that."

Yellow: Chris Buescher. Once again, Buescher had a shot to win, closing in on Logano early in the race's first segment while the No. 22 Ford got stuck in lapped traffic. His No. 17 Ford couldn't quite get alongside in this track position race and wound up third, capping a three-week stretch of "what might have been" at Kansas, Darlington and now North Wilkesboro.

Red: Daniel Suarez. A forgettable 15th in the All-Star Race, the lovable Mexican native has struggled since his surprise upset win at Atlanta. In a dozen races since, he's led only twice and has just one top-five finish, running several steps behind Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain.

Speeding Ticket: Goodyear. Many drivers commented on the success of North Wilkesboro's new asphalt, Larson calling it "the raciest repave he's ever ran on." Indeed, the Truck Series race earlier in the weekend produced compelling side-by-side action, the multiple grooves allowing drivers to run all over the racetrack.

So why didn't we see that in the Cup Series? Logano got out front and stayed planted there. You have to point the finger at the Next Gen chassis and Goodyear, who left multiple tire options on the table: those red, "softer" compounds vs. yellow "prime" tires that were supposed to spark both strategy and quality competition.

Kudos to the idea; it just didn't work as there wasn't enough of a falloff difference between the two. It was painful to watch faster cars try and fail to get alongside people, stalling out despite a race designed for maximum aggression.


The most action in Sunday's All-Star Race happened in the first two laps. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made an early move that squeezed Kyle Busch into the outside wall, causing an instant temper tantrum from Busch that led to the No. 47 being punted out of the race in retaliation.

"We passed him," Stenhouse said. "He left the middle open there, short race, trying to get all you could get. … I guess he was mad. Parked his car in the pit box, I figured he would do something like that. Maybe Richard (Childress, team owner) will hold my watch after the race."

The comment referred to a 2011 incident when Childress, then a rival owner of Busch's, threw a punch at the driver after an on-track incident at Kansas.

This time, Stenhouse waited around to cause a fight of his own. He was sitting there at Busch's hauler after the race, sparking an argument before leaning in and throwing the first punch.

"I felt like Kyle and I have always raced each other pretty hard," Stenhouse said afterward. "Never had any issues … and then, I wrecked him one time at Daytona and he's kind of been badmouthing me ever since then … definitely built-up frustration with how he runs his mouth all the time about myself. But I know he's frustrated because he doesn't run nearly as good as he used to. …

"I was excited about the rest of the night, but he ruined it."

Stenhouse is right that Busch has struggled, posting just one top-five finish since the beginning of March (he was 10th in the All-Star Race). From Busch's perspective, it was making a point about using one too many bumps to get by.

"It's the first lap of the race," Busch said before the fight broke out. "We don't even have water temp in the car yet and we're wrecking each other off of two. I'm tired of getting run over by everybody. But that's what everybody does. Everybody runs over everybody to pass everybody."

It's unknown where the conflict goes from there with both drivers suffering through tough seasons. Any penalties will be announced later in the week. That said, it's notable, despite the All-Star Race label, NASCAR has suspended drivers like Chase Elliott and parked them immediately for similar intentional retaliation in the past.

They didn't do that here.