Kyle Larson Outruns Brad Keselowski In Texas To Win The O’Reilly Auto Parts Challengeby Camille Jones November 5, 2016 0 comments
FORT WORTH, Tex. – Kyle Larson worked the high line to hold off a dominant Brad Keselowski to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Larson, driver of the No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet, has now collected two wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season. Saturday’s victory was Larson’s first at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson credited Elliott Sadler for assistance in getting a good restart to take the lead with 30 laps to go.
“I love seeing Elliott Sadler behind me on restarts,” said Larson in Victory Lane. “He’s really good at taking off and pushing. He helped me at Pocono earlier this year and then helped me win this one. I was just really tight from the bottom on short runs when I was in traffic there. Once I got to clean air, I like was like ‘oh man I’m kind of loose’ and got nervous and got to the top just in time and got rolling. I actually got loose over the bumps and hit the wall into (Turn) 1 one time with like five (laps) to go or so. I thought I might have killed my run enough to let him (Brad Keselowski) get to my inside into (Turn) 3, but I was able to have a big enough gap to hold him off.”
Brad Keselowski started on the pole and finished in the second position in his No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, but he led 145 laps over the course of the 200-lap event. Keselowski now has 11 top-10 finishes in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season, and he has claimed 14 top-10 finishes in 18 races at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We had a really strong car and we made a major stride forward with this team and this program which feels really good,” Keselowski said. “I am very happy about the speed we had and being able to lead a lot of laps and am disappointed to not be able to bring it home there at the end. All in all it was a good weekend for the 22 Discount Tire Ford XFINITY team.”
The driver of the No. 88 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, battled his way to the third position on his way to claim his 16th top-10 finish in 18 races at the 1.5-mile oval in the Lone Star State.
Leading the way for the drivers of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase was Erik Jones, who finished in the fourth position after starting second in his No. 18 GameStop/Call of Duty Toyota in Saturday’s event. Jones led 23 laps over the course of the race. With the solid finish, Jones jumps up to third in the championship standings. He’s now only seven points ahead of Justin Allgaier, who is the first driver out of a transfer position with one race to go in the Round of 8.
“It’s a good day for us, one of the first points days we’ve had in this Chase,” Jones said. “It was a solid day and what we needed to do to get ourselves in a good spot. I think we’re finally a few points ahead now into the top-four. A good day for us, we obviously want to go out there and try to win these races, but just didn’t have the car to do it today. The GameStop Camry was okay – we made some adjustments on it throughout the day to get it to where we wanted it to be. I wish we could have gone up there and contended for the win, but a good day overall.”
Also battling for a position in the final round of the Chase, Daniel Suarez was able to overcome battery issues with his No. 19 ARRIS Toyota to finish fifth. Suarez currently leads the championship standings and is 17 points ahead of fifth.
“I think we are in a good spot,” Suarez said. “I feel like there is no comfortable place in this format, but we are in a good spot. After doing what we have been able to do in the last month, month and a half, we do that and we will be fine and then everything will work out.”
Elliott Sadler gained two positions from his eighth-place starting position to finish sixth. Austin Dillon finished seventh, followed by Brennan Poole and Matt Tifft. Chase competitor, Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-10.
The remaining Chase drivers finishing outside of the top-10 in Saturday’s race include Darrell Wallace, Jr. in the 11th position, Ryan Reed in 12th, Blake Koch as the 14th-place finisher and Brendan Gaughan claiming the 15th-place position. All Chase drivers finished on the lead lap in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
Twenty-two laps were run under caution as the yellow flag flew five times in the 200-lap race. Each caution was brought out by an individual spin or mechanical issues.
Only two events remain in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season. The series heads west to Phoenix International Raceway for the final race of the Round of 8 before racing back to the East Coast for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway will be held on Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images