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Darlington NASCAR Cup Southern 500 defeat 'stings' for Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson admitted that his last-gasp defeat in the NASCAR Cup Series' Southern 500 at Darlington "stings" particularly badly in a year of near-misses

The Ganassi driver again came agonisingly close to his first Cup race win of 2018 in Sunday night's race, winning the first two stages and leading 284 of the 367 laps.

But Larson was beaten out of the pits by Brad Keselowski at the final stops and then lost second to Keselowski's Penske team-mate Joey Logano at the subsequent restart.

"It stings, for sure, to not win at a prestigious race like this," said Larson.

"I want to win every race, but I want to win a Southern 500 really bad.

"That was the first time [Keselowski] was out front all race long. He showed that he was really fast in clean air.

"I think if I could have been the control car for that restart... he beat me by just a nose off pit road and kind of won the race. I was really loose in traffic behind those guys trying to run hard.

"Even when I'd catch lapped traffic, I'd get extremely loose."

This was the seventh time in 25 races this season Larson has finished second or third, and the third time he had led the most laps but failed to win.

But the speed his car showed in what has been a tough season so far for the new Chevrolet was a pleasant surprise for Larson.

"I feel like in the last, I don't know, two months or so, the other Chevy teams have really found some speed - RCR and Hendrick especially, Chase [Elliott] winning, [Alex] Bowman has been running good," Larson said.

"I feel like we've kind of been stale up until this weekend.

"We had a good test at Richmond. We learned some things with some different components, and I felt like it really helped our car there.

"Chad [Johnston, crew chief] called back to the shop to get the primary [car] for here swapped over to kind of how we had it for Richmond, and was hoping that it was going to show some speed here - which it did.

"This is a good time of year to get some speed going before the playoffs, when we haven't had speed the last few months."

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