NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Larson wins at Texas
Kyle Larson takes the checkered flag in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Larson took the lead from Brad Keselowski on a restart with 30 laps remaining in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth on Saturday and drove on to his second Xfinity win of the season. Keselowski finished second, still winless for the season with two races remaining.
“I love seeing Elliott Sadler behind me on restarts,” Larson, whose first and only lead of the race came courtesy of a push from Sadler, said. “He’s really good at taking off and pushing,” Larson said. “He helped me win at Pocono (Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.) earlier this year, and he helped me win this one.”
Keselowski dominated the race, leading nearly three-quarters of it. He led a race-high 145 of the 200 laps that made up the race. Before losing the lead to Larson on the restart, he had led all but 25 laps to that point, with Erik Jones and Brennan Poole listed as the only other two drivers to lead laps.
“We had a really strong car, and we made a major stride forward with this team and this program, which feels really good,” Keselowski said. “I am happy about the speed we had and being able to lead a lot of laps and am disappointed to not be able to bring it home there at the end. All in all, it was a good weekend for the 22 Discount Tire Ford Xfinity team.”
Keselowski started the race on the pole, but lost the lead to Jones on the first lap. Jones led the first 23 laps before giving way to Keselowski on lap 24. Poole led two laps when he stayed out two laps longer than Keselowski during a green-flag cycle of stops just before lap 50.
Kevin Harvick finished third, giving Sprint Cup Series regulars a sweep of the top-three positions in the race finishing order. Xfinity Series chase drivers and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez finished fourth and fifth.
“It’s a good day for us, one of the first points days we’ve had in this chase,” Jones said. “It was a solid day and what we needed to do to get ourselves in a good spot. I think we’re finally a few points ahead now, into the top-four. A good day for us; we, obviously, want to go out there and try to win these races, but just didn’t have the car to do it today. The GameStop Camry was okay; we made some adjustments on it throughout the day to get it to where we wanted it to be. I wish we could have gone up there and contended for the win, but a good day, overall.”
Sadler, another Chase driver, finished sixth. Suarez and Sadler headed into the race tied atop the chase standing, but with Suarez finishing a position ahead of Sadler, he took sole possession of the championship lead by a single point. Chase drivers remain winless, two races into the three-race round of eight.
Half the chase drivers finished in the top-10, with Justin Allgaier joining Jones, Suarez and Sadler with a 10th-place finish. All eight chasers finished in the top-15, with Darrell Wallace Jr. in 11th, Ryan Reed 12th, Blake Koch 14th and Brendan Gaughan 15th.
“I actually thought we would be a little worse off from where we finished,” Wallace said. “Hats off to my guys on the Leidos team. I thought we would be a little worse off. We never got a handle on the balance and were kind of back and forth. The car was definitely a handful, even throughout the race. We were able to get it just kind of where we needed it to be, and we were able to salvage a good finish. That was good for us. We were close to the 7 (Allgaier) for a top-10. Coming out of this deal, I thought we would be 15th or so. That was good for us.”
Other top-10 race finishers included Austin Dillon in seventh, Poole in eighth and Matt Tifft ninth.