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Kyle Larson Scores First Win for Hendrick No. 17 in Intense Battle at COTA

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner, Getty Images

With both Shane van Gisbergen and AJ Allmendinger competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there was no question that the second-tier series was about to see some instant classics on the road courses. That’s exactly what Saturday at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) provided, but some more players were involved, too.

The Kaulig Racing teammates were easily the class of the field in Saturday’s Focused Health 250 and were poised to fight it out amongst themselves, until a late-race caution for a stalled Ed Jones threw the race into NASCAR Overtime. That’s where things got slightly complicated.

As we’ve seen before in overtime at the 3.41-mile road course, things got slightly out-of-hand, with drivers making substantial divebombs entering the first corner and throwing all caution to the wind with a NASCAR Xfinity Series victory on the line.

While the Auckland, New Zealand native managed to maintain the lead during the first overtime restart, he wasn’t as lucky on the second and final attempt at NASCAR Overtime, losing out on the top spot when Austin Hill dove to his inside entering the first corner.

For the remainder of the two-lap stint, the driver of the No. 97 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet was able to reel in the veteran driver for Richard Childress Racing, then spent the next five miles around Circuit of The Americas trying to formulate a plan of attack, allowing 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson to close in.

Then, as the top two drives got to race for the victory, the NASCAR Cup Series veteran was able to keep his distance from the leaders, pouncing when Hill and Van Gisbergen made significant contact on the final lap of the event, allowing the Hendrick Motorsports driver to sneak to the left side and take over the lead.

Larson would cross the start-finish line over one second ahead of the original runner-up finisher Shane Van Gisbergen, who was later demoted to a disappointing to 27th-place finish, after getting a 30-second penalty for cutting the course in the esses during NASCAR Overtime.

That would promote Austin Hill to a runner-up finish, leaving him to extend a good start to the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign, which has included top-five finishes in each of the opening five events. Behind the chaos for the lead, John Hunter Nemechek battled back from an eventful weekend to finish in third.

Cole Custer finished in fourth, while Parker Kligerman scored his first top-five result of the season for Big Machine Racing, finishing fifth. Jesse Love finished sixth, with Austin Green recording a seventh-place finish on debut for Jordan Anderson Racing. Chandler Smith, Sam Mayer, and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top-10.

Allmendinger, like Van Gisbergen, led a race-high 20 laps, but was sent to the rear of the field coming to the final restart of the event, after exceeding track limits in the esses on the first of two NASCAR Overtime restarts.

Leaving COTA, Austin Hill holds a nine-point advantage over Chandler Smith in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, with Cole Custer, Jesse Love, and Riley Herbst rounding on the top five.

Next, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Richmond Raceway for the sixth race of the campaign, and the first on a track smaller than one mile in length.

Race Results: NASCAR Xfinity Series Focused Health 250 at COTA

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