• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Larson moves Elliott on restart to win Watkins Glen

ByBrenden Martin

Aug 21, 2022
Kyle Larson celebrates in Victory Lane

Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 driver Kyle Larson swept the weekend at Watkins Glen, winning both the Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the Cup Series race the following day.

Heavy showers and a rain delay could not stop Larson, who ran Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chase Elliott wide on the final restart with five laps to go.

“I knew that was my only opportunity,” Larson said to NBC Sports. “I’m not proud of it, but being in the right lane and being the leader choosing the left lane, it definitely wins out but when it gets too late in the race it’s definitely risky.”

Larson was asked how he would react if it were the other way around.

“I think if I was in his shoes, I would understand the risk that I’m taking to choose the left lane also,” Larson added. “Again like I said I’m not proud of it, but I felt that’s what I had to do to get the win.”

Elliott lost the handle on his car thanks to the contact from Larson and fell to fourth by the time he crossed the checkered flag.

Elliott was short and to the point after the race.

“Just a huge congratulations to Kyle and everybody on the [No. 5] team,” Elliott said. Congratulations to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting another win.”

Elliott did not get the win, but he led the most laps and secured the 2022 regular season championship as he put enough distance between him and Team Penske No. 12 driver Ryan Blaney before the regular season finale next week.

Larson had to beat out Kaulig Racing No. 16 driver AJ Allmendinger after final restarts in both races, ultimately leading to his second win this season and 18th Cup Series win of his career.

Allmendinger finished second in both races this weekend. He recovered from being spun by Team Penske No. 2 driver Austin Cindric on Turn 1 of Lap 2.

The race was delayed thanks to lightning in the area and heavy rain that left standing water on the track. Cars were taking pace laps getting ready to begin the race when NASCAR brought out the red flag to dry the track and the large puddles.

The race began with all cars on rain tires with Stage 1 strategy coming down to who would change for slick tires first.

The first to pit was Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing No. 17 driver Chris Buescher on Lap 8, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 driver Chase Briscoe. Briscoe timed the change perfectly as he passed everyone on the faster tire who pitted later to earn his fourth stage win of the year.

He did end up having an issue that forced the team to go under the hood after the second stage, leading to a 25th-place finish.

Stage 2 saw the return of double-file restarts as NASCAR opted for single-file starts due to the damp track. Front Row Motorsports No. 38 driver Todd Gilliland led the field at the start of the stage.

On Lap 28, Gilliland slowed down due to his rear axle breaking, ending a day where the rookie was looking for his second-straight top 5 finish at a road course.

A major factor in the race was the amount of foreign-born drivers that were in the field. A record seven countries were represented in the race with the most notable being Trackhouse Racing No. 91 driver Kimi Räikkönen.

The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion made his NASCAR Cup Series debut and ran in the top 10 for much of the day. He pitted before the end of Stage 2 to get better track position for the final stage.

Team Penske No. 22 driver Joey Logano held off Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 driver Kyle Busch to win his fourth stage of the year in Stage 2.

Räikkönen’s day came to a rough end halfway through the race on Lap 45 when he and Richard Childress No. 3 driver Austin Dillon spun after contact from Trackhouse Racing No. 1 driver Ross Chastain. Räikkönen was sent into the tire barrier at the bus stop. He ended the race in 37th.

“It was good fun,” Räikkönen said to NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman.

Elliott and Front Row Motorsports No. 34 driver Michael McDowell battled for the lead on the restart with Elliott eventually besting the road course aficionado.

Green flag pit stops began for teams looking to top off their cars to make it to the end. Drivers such as Dillon and Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 driver Cole Custer stayed out longer hoping for a caution that didn’t come, leaving them on older tires and less fuel.

Elliott got around Dillon on Lap 71 after pitting on Lap 59 to retake the lead.

Late race issues threw a wrench in what was looking to be a duel between Elliott and Larson where Elliott had control of the lead. Busch spun out in Turn 1 with 15 laps to go, but no caution came out.

The yellow flag did come out for Rick Ware Racing No. 15 driver Joey Hand after he spun into a tire barrier. The road course exclusive racer for RWR was running in 15th at the time and had stints in the top five. He finished the race in 31st as the last car on the lead lap.

Elliott maintained the lead on the following restart, but it was all for naught as the caution came out again for Team Hezeberg No. 27 driver Loris Hezemans who got stuck in the gravel with eight laps to go.

Larson finally got the better of Elliott on Turn 1 on the final restart with five laps left, granting him a clear path to back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen not only for the weekend but also in the Cup Series as he won the Go Bowling at The Glen in 2021.

Larson’s win locks in 23XI Racing No. 45 Kurt Busch, who missed this week and will miss next week, into the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Martin Truex Jr. gained one point on Blaney for the final playoff spot by finishing one spot in front of him in 23rd and now trails him by 25 points.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season comes to an end at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. In a twist for the Cup Series, the race will be on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. The Daytona night race is set to begin on Saturday, August 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The race can be watched on NBC, Peacock and the NBC Sports App. It can also be listened to on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Race Results:

NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen Race Results

Point Standings:

NASCAR Cup Point Standings Waltkins Glen

Owner Points:

NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen Owner Points

NOTE: Post-race inspection in the Cup Series garage is complete. There were no issues, confirming Kyle Larson as the winner.