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Kyle Larson Benefits from Top-Two Tangling, Steals Xfinity Series Victory at Watkins Glen

kyle larson hendrick motorsports jr motorsports watkins glen nascar xfinity series
Kyle Larson – a NASCAR Cup Series driver for Hendrick Motorsports – picked up his 13th victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Saturday at Watkins Glen International, after the top-two drivers tangled in the closing stages of the event, parting the seas for the JR Motorsports driver to drive straight through to the victory. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

That was certainly not the outcome that was expected.

Kyle Larson certainly wasn’t the fastest car on the track. However, the Elk Grove, California-native was in the right place at the right time and because of that, he find himself in victory lane for the 13th time in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career.

The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion had to start the event from the back of the field, in his No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro, and maneuvered his way through the pack to be inside the top five for the race’s final stage.

Based on the speed of his competitors, Larson looked like he would have to settle for a third-place result, that was until the racing gods sent him a belated birthday present.

With only five laps remaining in Saturday’s 82-lap contest, both Ty Gibbs and William Byron, the quickest cars on the track throughout the entire race, spun while battling for the lead, clearing the path for Larson and the pack to move through.

Larson would continue to hold off two hard-charging drivers in AJ Allmendinger and Sammy Smith over the race’s final five laps, capturing the victory by just under three-tenths of a second.

The outcome of Saturday’s race wasn’t familiar to the standard put down by AJ Allmendinger on a road course, finishing in the runner-up spot, missing out on his 10th road course win in the second-tier series.

Making his fourth start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Sammy Smith recorded a career-best third-place result, after leading six laps around the 2.45-mile course. Smith dominated Friday’s ARCA Menards Series event, before being moved on the final lap.

Noah Gragson, who started the event outside the top-15, was able to rebound to record a fourth-place finish, marking a series-high 12th top-five finish for the JR Motorsports driver.

Kaz Grala – competing on a part-time basis for Big Machine Racing – collected a fifth-place finish for the revolving door entry, the team’s third such finish of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Sheldon Creed, Josh Berry, and Jeremy Clements round out the top-10 finishers in Saturday’s event. Stefan Parsons, driving the No. 44 for Alpha Prime Racing, recorded a 12th-place result in Saturday’s 82-lap contest, the best finish for first-year organization Alpha Prime Racing.

With early-race issues for Justin Allgaier, and the spin in the closing laps of the event for Ty Gibbs, AJ Allmendinger has extended his regular-season points advantage to 61 points over Gibbs, and 70 points over Allgaier. Noah Gragson and Josh Berry complete the top five in points.

Next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway, which is expected to have a larger entry list than most events this season, for a race that could be crucial for many drivers’ playoff hopes.

Race Results: 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Go Rewards 200

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