FONTANA, Calif. — To add to his already stellar weekend, Kyle Larson claims his first NASCAR XFINITY Series checkered flag of the season in the Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway, Saturday afternoon.
With a four lap shootout, the Elk Grove, California native held off a hard charging Joey Logano, as the two duked it out for the win. In the end, the No.42 ENIOS Chevrolet proved to be too much to challenge and Larson pulled away for the checkered flag.
“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome.” Larson said. “I just had a couple lap fresher tires than he did and was able to chase him down and try to be patient around him and got by him then made a mistake trying to block him off 4 and he got back by. That was a lot of fun. I wish that last caution wouldn’t come out then it would’ve been a lot easier for me to win I think, a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we would be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice, fought the balance actually a lot throughout the race too and those last two runs we hit on it and felt good for the short run and throughout the long run. I hope it gives us some good momentum.”
Finishing second was Joey Logano. The driver of the No.22 Discount Tire Ford, seemed to overcome adversity all race long. A penalty on pit road early in Stage 1, forced Logano to the rear of the field and restarted P35. Within five laps, the Team Penske driver had raced his way back into the top-10 and within 10 laps, he had raced his way into the top-3. With 50 laps to go, under a pit stop, the car had fallen off the jack. Once again, sending Logano to the back of the pack, where he, just like did before, raced his way back into the top 10.
Finishing in third was Kyle Busch. The driver of the No.18 NOS Energy Toyota, looked poised for another race victory as he won the first two stages of the event. As the race wore down to the conclusion, the No.18’s handling seemed to fade away and finished on the final step of the podium.
Rounding out the top-5 include, Erik Jones and Rookie of the Year contender William Byron.
Finishing in sixth is the Roush-Fenway Racing driver, Darrell Wallace Jr, NXS points leader Elliott Sadler finishes seventh, Larson’s teammate Brennan Poole finishes eighth, last weekend’s winner Justin Algaier comes home in ninth with Ty Dillon finishing out the top 10.
The race was run not without incident or hurt feelings, as Paul Menard and Cole Custer’s day each ended with the help of another driver.
With 55 laps left to go, Paul Menard and Erik Jones made contact off of turn 4 and sent the No.2 Richmond/Menard’s Chevrolet head on into the outside wall.
“I don’t know if he tried pushing me or just crossing over. Menard said. “Definitely had a brain fart he did. The car’s just really good. I thought all weekend long we were as least a third-place car and the leaders weren’t getting away from us the last run. We were actually catching on them a little bit. We learned a lot for tomorrow and that’s all I can ask for.”
As for Custer, the driver of the No.00 HAAS Automation Ford, he went head on into the outside wall entering turn 1 with some help from the No.39 of Ryan Sieg.
“We just got back there from a bad pit stop there, I don’t know exactly what happened.” Custer said. “Just trying to work our way up there. I was trying to side-draft him coming off 4 and then I probably got into his left-rear a little bit, not bad at all and he just right-reared us going into Turn 1 and that was about it, probably think it’s a joke. It is what it is. We had an awesome car, I thought we could’ve had a top-three finish, maybe even fought for a win there. Just got our day ended by ol’ Ryan Sieg.”
The next NASCAR XFINITY Series race is in two weeks, Saturday April 8 at 1:30 pm ET, at the Texas Motor Speedway, for the My Bariatric Solutions 300. (FS1, PRN, Sirius XM)