Larson spent much of Sunday’s race putting on a clinic, leading 96 of the first 160 laps and won the first stage.
However, while he was running second behind Ryan Blaney with just under 60 laps remaining, Blaney decided to head to pit road for his final green flag pit stop and Larson elected to follow.
As both drivers made their stop on lap 213, Larson ran up quickly on a slowing Blaney right at the pitroad entrance, veered to the right to avoid hitting him but instead slammed into the sand barrels guarding pit road.
Blaney was able to continue with his pit stop and returned to the race. Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, however, received extensive damage and he was forced to retire to the garage.
Since Larson was already locked in the title race thanks to his win last weekend at Las Vegas, his early exit didn’t have any real consequences other than perhaps embarrassment.
“I was just trying to push it as much as I could. (Blaney) had a great car and I felt like if he was to come off pit road the leader, he was going to end up winning the race or beating me,” Larson said.
“I was just trying to maximize my pit-in, and honestly, I felt like I was doing a really good job. I just didn’t anticipate him slowing down as much as he did. But on the replay, it looks like I just missed it by a lot. I need to look at data.
“I’m pretty upset at myself, more than anything. Whether he got to pit road speed sooner than the yellow line or not, I could have just done a little bit better job judging it.”
Larson said he noticed his car began to struggle somewhat in the middle of Stage 2 but still felt he was in a good position to earn a win on Sunday.
“I was just kind of hanging on there at the end of the second stage and gave (Blaney) control of the race, and it kind of just led to this. Just have to do a little bit better job,” he said.
“We won the first stage, and we had a great (car) in the second stage. Just ran hard for a few too many laps; got my right-rear hot and gave him the second stage. But other than that, we were good.”