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Kyle Larson Victorious in Full-Contact, Last-Lap Battle with John Hunter Nemechek at Darlington

Kyle Larson is finally a winner at Darlington Raceway, scoring the win after a fantastic last-lap battle with John Hunter Nemechek. PC: Craig White |

The NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway never fails to provide excitement.

Kyle Larson, in a one-off attempt for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, scored the victory in Saturday’s Shriners Children’s 200 at Darlington, after an incredible battle over the closing laps with series regular John Hunter Nemechek.

Though, in order for Larson to get back into position with his Chevrolet Camaro, he would have to overcome a speeding penalty, which he sustained on a caution with [] laps to go.

Looking like his chances at a Darlington victory had vanished, Larson kept himself in the conversation by slicing through traffic on the restart, quickly reasserting his position inside the top-10 as the ninth caution of the race was thrown for debris.

A strong restart, and then another quick caution displayed for a crash by Kyle Sieg, allowed Larson to get back into contention for the victory, restarting on the outside of the second row and tracking down then-leader John Hunter Nemechek.

Over the last three laps of the race, Larson got within a car-length of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, showing the strength in his Kaulig Racing entry in the first set of corners, which ultimately made the difference.

On the final lap of the race, Larson was able to cross underneath Nemechek at the exit of the second corner, leaving the two drivers side-by-side heading into turn three, where they first made contact.

In the last 10 seconds of Saturday’s event, there was probably as much contact between the leaders, as the field had encountered all afternoon, as the pair of drivers traded paint and shots trying to get back to the start-finish line in the lead.

Exiting the final corner, Larson smacked the outside wall, which caused the leaders to make more contact, sending the No. 20 Toyota Supra hurdling toward the inside wall, where he would impact and lose several positions.

In the last-lap scramble, Justin Allgaier was able to sneak through for second place, coming one spot short of scoring a first victory for JR Motorsports in 2023. Cole Custer finished in third, after taking his final set of sticker tires on the final caution, which left him outside the top-15 with just six laps to go, passing several cars in a short period of time.

Austin Hill finished in fourth place, after being involved in a massive 19-car accident in the race’s second stage, which collected teammate Sheldon Creed and several other drivers. John Hunter Nemechek completed the top-five, after spinning across the start-finish line and slamming the inside – and then the outside – wall.

In just his second career start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Carson Hocevar recorded a sixth-place finish in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports. Josh Berry and Sam Mayer finished seventh and eighth for JR Motorsports.

Rounding out the top-10 were Kaz Grala and Corey Heim, teammates for Sam Hunt Racing, marking the first time in the organization’s history that they’ve put two entries inside the top-10.

Leaving Darlington, John Hunter Nemechek jumps to the points lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, sitting a single point ahead of Austin Hill. Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, and Cole Custer complete the top-five in points.

Now, the series gets to enjoy a weekend off, before heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day Weekend, the start of a multi-week stretch of racing, which includes some road courses.

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