• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Kyle Larson steals Xfinity win at Watkins Glen

ByMichael Manny

Aug 20, 2022
Kyle Larson celebrates at Watkins Glen

Photo courtesy of Sean Gardner | Getty Images

William Byron and Ty Gibbs dueled all day, and looked like they had the best cars in the field. But after the two made contact and spun with five to go, Kyle Larson took advantage and held off AJ Allmendinger to win the Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at Watkins Glen International. 

It’s Larson’s first road course win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and 13th overall. 

And he did it in a car he said he didn’t think was capable of winning.

“I think my only shot really, was, the 54 and 17, William and Ty got racing,”  Larson said to NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman after the race. “I just wanted to help William down the frontstretch as much as I could, and they got battling up the esses. I tried to help him get clear to the bus stop and they raced side-by-side into there and got together, and the seas parted and I was able to get through.” 

Up to their spin, Byron and Gibbs had been able to avoid calamity all afternoon in a race that featured eight cautions, tied for the most ever in an Xfinity race at Watkins Glen. 

Byron, driving Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 17 car, started the race on pole, thanks to a qualifying lap that set a track record. He went on the lead 36 of 82 laps, with Gibbs leading the second-most with 25. 

Byron went on to lead the first eight laps, with him and Gibbs trading the lead back and forth for the next several times around. 

It did not take long for said calamity to unfold. Just five laps into the race, JR Motorsports No. 7 driver Justin Allgaier spun and hit the wall in the esses, prematurely ending his day. 

The wreck comes with substantial regular season title implications for Allgaier, who was sitting second in the points standings coming into the race. The result dropped Allgaier behind Gibbs into third. 

Soon after the race restarted, Snider and Jeb Burton spun, though the race remained green. It was the beginning of a tough day for both drivers. 

On Lap 15, another caution came out, this time for Patrick Gallagher stalling out. Several drivers pitted, but Allmendinger stayed out, looking to earn stage points. 

Instead, 18-year-old Sammy Smith beat out the veteran to win Stage 1.  The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished third in only his fourth-career Xfinity start. 

Smith and Byron led the field into Turn 1 on the Stage 2 restart, which stayed as eventful as the first 20 laps.

Larson took the lead from Smith on lap 24. It was the first of just seven laps led by Larson the entire race. Byron quickly seized it back, leading all but one of the next 27 laps. 

Though the amount of cautions tied a record, multiple drivers spun out and were able to continue without the yellow flag coming out. Near the end of Stage 2, both SS Green Light’s Cole Custer and JGR’s Brandon Jones spun out in near succession. 

Custer was one of four full-time Cup drivers in the field. 

Byron held onto the top spot to win Stage 2. 

As green flag pit stops were taking place in Stage 3, Byron and Gibbs continued to battle. Though their battle was for 14th place at the time, they quickly cycled back up to the lead. 

Gibbs held the lead for the first time since early in the race starting Lap 60, but much of the 18 laps spent up front were run under the yellow flag.

Late in the final stage, the race was under caution for over 20 minutes after defending series champion Daniel Hemric slammed into the tire barrier. The restart was then delayed further due to the No. 31 car of Myatt Snider leaking fluid around the track. 

With eight to go, Chastain spun into the gravel and got stuck, setting up a final restart. 

Byron and Gibbs drove into Turn 1 on the final restart side-by-side, racing two-wide in the carousel before Gibbs got loose and spun, taking Byron with him. 

The accident opened the door to Larson, who held off Allmendinger for the win. 

Byron and Gibbs went on to finish 25th and 27th respectively. 

With four races now left in the regular season, Allmendinger is now 61 points ahead of Gibbs in the regular season title race. Allgaier has dropped to third, 70 points behind. 

The Xfinity Series next heads to Daytona International Speedway for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, Friday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be on USA Network, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

NOTE: Post-race inspection in the Xfinity Series garage is complete. There were no issues, confirming Kyle Larson as the winner. The No. 16 had one lug nut not safe and secure. 


glen xfinity results

Driver points report:

glen xfinity points report