NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Larson gets home-state win at Auto Club Speedway
Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane at Auto Club Speedway after winning the Service King 300 on March 25, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
California-native and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson kicked off his two-race Auto Club Speedway weekend in Fontana by winning the pole Friday for Sunday’s Cup Series race. He followed that up on Saturday with his second Xfinity win at the track, taking victory in the Service King 300.
The race was dominated by the Cup Series trio of Larson, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. Logano and Busch finished second and third, along with another Cup driver, Erik Jones, in fourth. William Byron was the highest-finishing Xfinity Series championship-eligible driver, rounding out the top-five. Busch won the first two 35-lap stages of the race.
The trio of Larson, Logano and Busch combined to lead all but four laps of the 150-lap race, with Logano leading a race-high 70 laps. None of the three, though, were up front for the entire race. Busch did stay up front once he got there after starting from the 16th position. After starting outside the top-five, Busch got to the front quickly, getting into the top-five by lap 20. He took his first lead of the race on the first restart of the race, soon after lap 30.
Logano started on the pole and led the first 31 laps of the race. He got off pit road during the first caution, but a pit road speeding penalty put him in the back for the restart. Logano had to drive up through the field twice. Later in the race, his car fell off its jack, and his crew had difficulty getting the jack back under the car.
“It was just a real fast car, and a little bit of experience around this race track helps me and knowing where to go on these restarts, and then, not really caring,” Logano said. “Just hammer down, basically. Put it up there on the top, and let her eat. That’s pretty much what I did. I was able to pass quite a few cars and get ourselves back in the lead from going to the back, got back to the front, went to the back, got back to the front, and it really all came down to that last restart.”
Like Logano, Larson also was slapped with a pit road speeding penalty, with his coming during the caution that split the first two stages of the race, just past lap 70.
Larson, Logano and Busch were all up front after a restart following a caution just past lap 100. Larson took the lead from Logano with just under 15 laps remaining, but he couldn’t pull away.
“I knew he (Larson) was a little better than us,” Logano said. “I think he had two or three-lap better tires than me, which was surprising that he continued to stay faster the whole run. We raced the heck out of each other. I had a lot of fun racing with him. It was a good time, and he was faster than me.”
As Larson led the race, Busch and Logano battled back-and-forth for several lap after the final restart with five laps remaining. Logano took over the position and closed on Larson but was unable to get by him to retake the lead.
“I wish that last caution hadn’t come out,” Larson said. “I think I could have won a heck of a lot easier of a race.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Darrell Wallace Jr., Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon.