Kyle Busch used the tactic made popular on the high banks twice in the waning laps to win Monday's rain-delayed Food City 500.
Instead, Larson got a significant challenge from Stenhouse on the restart and the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racer almost took the lead. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver and 2015 series champion won his seventh career Cup race at Bristol, most among active drivers.
"As soon as I restarted, I was extremely loose and just didn't have any grip", said Larson, who led four times for a race-high 200 laps. "I've been beat by Kyle (Busch) about every time I race here, too; so that gets frustrating after a while".
"Today we're challenged by everything, the weather, damage to our vehicle", Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola said, mustering a smile during the late rain delay.
Stenhouse finished fourth and was left to ponder the what-ifs had there not been a late caution Monday.
"I just didn't expect to get that loose that run there".
"I wish it would have stayed green", said Stenhouse.
Still, Busch admitted having concern with five laps still remaining and the hard-driving Larson in pursuit.
Larson appeared to have the vehicle to beat on Monday, running well ahead of the pack on long green flag runs.
The No. 43 auto piloted by Bubba Wallace donned the famous STP paint scheme designed by the driver for the second time this season.
Bubba Wallace, the first full-time black driver in the Cup series since 1971, led for six laps in the third stage, the first laps he has led in his rookie season. but fell back and finished 16th.
Last weekend at Texas, Busch had to hold off a chasing Kevin Harvick, but this time around, he was the one doing the chasing.
Another first-year driver, Knoxville's Chad Finchum, finished 33rd in the Monster Series Cup debut.
"We have it rolling in the right direction", Johnson said.
"Once the tires wore enough, then you'd move up". "That's just a great thing to have, and it gives you a lot of confidence when you can go to the racetrack with these guys".
After two days of poor weather, most drivers were just appreciative to get out of Bristol, a track on which the upper groove never really was the place to go and the pit gun problems of past weeks once again doomed at least one potential victor.