When it comes to mind-blowing finishes in NASCAR, they always seem to come directly after a mind-numbingly long rain delay has forced viewers to stick around and wait for the conclusion of the event.
Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 was no exception to this observation, as Kyle Larson, Noah Gragson, and Sheldon Creed put on one of the best shows the series has seen in a long-time.
After leading a race-high 82 of 147 laps, Noah Gragson ended up with the victory, but it wasn’t without a full-contact, three-car battle for the win which included three of the most notoriously aggressive drivers in NASCAR.
Sheldon Creed, looking for his maiden victory in his rookie season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, was able to inherit the lead from Justin Allgaier on a restart with 50 laps to go, allowing the Richard Childress Racing driver to set sail to a healthy lead.
With less than 20 laps remaining in the race, a spin by Brandon Jones called the caution for the fifth and final time, setting up a 15-lap duel between Creed and the eventual race-winner.
After doing an incredible job holding the JR Motorsports driver behind him for the majority of the race’s final run, it became a three-horse battle when Kyle Larson snuck onto the scene, making quick work of Gragson for the runner-up spot with four to go.
On the final lap of the event, Larson was able to drive his No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro to the inside of Creed in turn one, where the two drivers made contact and slammed into the outside wall.
The major loss of momentum for the top-two drivers allowed Gragson to dart low entering the third corner when simply… all hell broke loose.
In a move similar to that of Larson’s in last year’s Southern 500, Creed throttled it up in the corner, riding the wall in an attempt to get to the start-finish line first. Larson attempted to do the same, falling to fifth.
On the other hand, Gragson dove into the final corner looking to a slide job on the Richard Childress Racing driver, eventually pounding the outside wall and driving to the inside of the Whelen Chevrolet Camaro.
After last-lap fireworks, Creed would still come home in the runner-up position, a career-best for the first-year competitor in the second-tier series.
AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier would sneak through to capture third and fourth-place finishes, while Kyle Larson’s battered No. 17 would complete the top-five finishers in Saturday’s event.
Ty Gibbs came home in sixth place, with teammate Christopher Bell, who filled in for Denny Hamlin, in seventh. Josh Berry, John Hunter Nemechek, and Austin Hill completed the top-10.
In the battle to make the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, Landon Cassill came home 12th, with Daniel Hemric in 13th, while Ryan Sieg lost a myriad of points finishing in 18th.
Heading into Kansas, Sieg holds a 16-point advantage on Sheldon Creed for the final spot in the post-season, while Landon Cassill and Daniel Hemric only sit 34 and 54 points head, respectively.
With only Kansas and Bristol left in the series’ regular-season, the battle to make the post-season is guaranteed to be a hot-button topic.