Kyle Larson Wins In Fontana After Holding Off Joey Logano In The Final Lapsby Camille Jones March 26, 2017 0 comments
FONTANA, Calif.– Kyle Larson won Saturday’s Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway after a thrilling side-by-side battle with Joey Logano in the final laps.
After overcoming an early speeding penalty, Larson won the final race off of pit road before a restart with just three laps to go. On the restart, Larson launched away from the pack as the leader with Logano trying to chase him down. The driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet claimed his sixth win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and his second at Auto Club Speedway in his home state.
“The racing there at the end with Joey (Logano) was awesome,” said Larson. “I had just a couple lap fresher tires I needed and was able to chase him down. Just trying to patient around him, got by him, then made a mistake trying to block him off four and he got back by,. That was a lot of fun, though. I wish that last caution wouldn’t have come out because I think it’d been a little bit easier for me to win, I think. A heck of a race, I honestly didn’t think we’d be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice, fought the balance actually a lot throughout the race too. Finally there those last two runs we hit on it and felt good for the short run and throughout the long run.
Logano, driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, had to battle back from a speeding penalty and his car falling off of the jack on pit road to finish in the second position. He battled for the lead with Larson for much of the closing laps, but he was unable to make the winning pass. Logano led a race high of 70 laps throughout the afternoon.
“I’m mad about not winning today is the best way to put it,” Logano said. “We had such a fast Discount Tire Ford today. We qualified really good and obviously led a lot of laps. We had the fastest car and didn’t win the race. There’s a lot to look back at and understand exactly why. Obviously, execution plays a big role in these races. You can have the fastest car and if you don’t execute, you don’t win. Today, we didn’t execute well at all and we were lucky to finish second.”
Busch has started on the pole for every NASCAR XFINITY Series race he has run so far in 2017, but for the first time, Busch not only didn’t win the pole, he also failed to qualify in the top-10. In just a lap, Busch had raced from 16th to ninth. It wasn’t long before he was contending for the lead and went on to win the first two Stages. He led 55 laps, and he finished the race in the third position in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota on Saturday.
“We were just a little bit off all weekend for some reason – just kind of missing something,” Busch said. “Not sure what it is yet. We’re working on trying to find from what our damage was the last couple of years. The guys have worked hard and done a good job with good stuff and good equipment and we’re just trying to make the most of it and get it better. We’re definitely behind a couple of the other teams right now. On the short run stuff we weren’t very good, didn’t have very good speed, but we knew we had long run speed but the race didn’t come down to that for us today.”
Erik Jones and William Byron rounded out the top-five. Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth, followed by Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon.
There were seven cautions over the course of the 150-lap event.
On lap 96, the caution flew for an accident involving Paul Menard and Erik Jones. Paul Menard in the No. 2 Menards Chevrolet was tagged in the rear by Erik Jones in the No. 20 Game Stop/Nyko Mini Boss Toyota. Menard’s Chevrolet made heavy contact with the outside wall, resulting in severe damage as a fire billowed out of the back of the car. The incident was unintentional, but Menard was unable to continue the race.
With 42 laps remaining, Cole Custer took a hard hit to the outside wall in his No. 00 Haas Automation Ford after being turned by Ryan Sieg. The front end of Custer’s car was flattened as it trailed fire behind it and bounced along the wall to a stop. Custer was unharmed in the head-on crash. Custer was disappointed that for a second week in-a-row, his race ended in a crash.
“I just got hooked going into the corner,” said Custer. “I think I hit him (Ryan Sieg) a tick just on my side draft going off of four and then he decided just to hook us going into turn one and wreck us. It is what it is, but we’ll just move on. We had an awesome Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop. We were gonna work our way back up there, but just got our day ended by a clown move.”
Brandon Jones brought out the final caution of the afternoon on lap 142. The caution is what set the field up for a four-lap dash to the finish.
Elliott Sadler still leads the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings over William Byron, now by 17 points after five races.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will be back on track in two weeks at Texas Motor Speedway for the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday, April 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be found on FOX and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images