Kyle Larson bounces and crashes in contact-filled Xfinity win at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 13: Kyle Larson, driver of the #10 Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children's 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 13, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson leaned on John Hunter Nemechek to secure the win. In the final lap of Saturday’s Shriners Children’s 200, Kyle Larson caught the then-leader, and the pair made contact until Nemechek ended up hitting the wall spinning across the finish line.

Despite having a fast car all race, Larson was left on the back foot after a speeding penalty at the start of the final stage and had to claw his way through the field. He was up to second in the final restart with seven-to-go, and finally caught up to Nemechek on that eventful final lap.

“We had a really, really good car the whole race, and I made a mistake on pit road,” Larson said. But, he added, “I knew we were going to have time to get to the front if we had a caution. We were picking off cars really fast, and [I] had some lane selections work out for me.”

As for the contact with Nemechek, “We were just bouncing off each other a little bit,” he explained. “I don’t know what happened in [Turn] 3. It seemed like he tried to get behind me to shove me into the corner.”

“It kind of hooked me right,” Larson added, “and I hit the wall, and I was trying to stay away from him and get off of [Turn] 4. What an exciting race there.”

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 13: John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #20 Pye Barker Fire & Safety Toyota, spins to the finish line after an on-track incident on the final lap of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 13, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Justin Allgaier finished runner-up, passing Nemechek in the final stretch, followed by Cole Custer and Austin Hill. Nemechek did ultimately end up a disappointing fifth after leading 11 laps more than Larson and winning Stage 2 just ahead of him.

“Had a really fast race car and battling with one of the best in the sport in my opinion, Kyle Larson… It was a really great day,” Nemechek said.

“Just disappointed a little bit from the standpoint of how that ended up there. Overall, we gave it a shot and still had a shot to win off of Turn 4. Fast car, top-five to show for it, when it probably should have been Victory Lane or second.”

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 13: Chandler Smith, driver of the #16 Quick Tie Products Inc. Chevrolet, Ryan Truex, driver of the #19 Toyota Outfitters Toyota, Austin Hill, driver of the #21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Heritage Chevrolet, Brett Moffitt, driver of the #25 AM Technical Solutions Ford, Josh Berry, driver of the #8 Tire Pros Love The Drive Chevrolet, Daniel Hemric, driver of the #11 Cirkul Chevrolet, and Jeremy Clements, driver of the #51 First Pacific Funding Chevrolet, spin after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Shriners Children’s 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 13, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The last lap wasn’t the only source of carnage. The race was filled with cautions with a massive list of cars involved. In the biggest wreck of the day, Sam Mayer hit a spinning Austin Hill while, trying to avoid, Ryan Truex and Chandler Smith spun and collided. Eleven cars were collected in total, and Jones, Smith and Truex were forced out of the race.

All told, 10 total cautions resulted in 51 laps under the yellow flag, a stark contrast to Friday night’s Truck Series race, which had no cautions for incidents in the first two stages.

The Xfinity Series returns for the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27th.

Photos: NASCAR at Darlington Raceway Saturday May 13, 2023

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Shriners Children’s 200
Darlington Raceway
Darlington, South Carolina
Saturday, May 13, 2023

1. (3) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 147.
2. (17) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 147.
3. (5) Cole Custer, Ford, 147.
4. (10) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 147.
5. (1) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 147.
6. (25) Carson Hocevar(i), Chevrolet, 147.
7. (13) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 147.
8. (4) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 147.
9. (26) Kaz Grala, Toyota, 147.
10. (24) Corey Heim(i), Toyota, 147.
11. (9) Sammy Smith #, Toyota, 147.
12. (15) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 147.
13. (23) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 147.
14. (19) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 147.
15. (20) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 147.
16. (12) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 147.
17. (27) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 147.
18. (21) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 147.
19. (30) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 147.
20. (14) Brett Moffitt, Ford, 147.
21. (31) Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, 147.
22. (28) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, 147.
23. (35) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 147.
24. (8) Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, 147.
25. (7) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 147.
26. (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 147.
27. (16) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 146.
28. (34) Matt Mills(i), Ford, 146.
29. (36) Gray Gaulding, Ford, 146.
30. (29) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 146.
31. (22) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 144.
32. (37) Joe Graf Jr., Ford, Accident, 140.
33. (32) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Accident, 74.
34. (11) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 68.
35. (2) Ryan Truex, Toyota, Accident, 68.
36. (6) Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.
37. (38) Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, Suspension, 35.
38. (18) Riley Herbst, Ford, Accident, 29.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 91.924 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 11 Mins, 4 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.337 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 10 for 51 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Nemechek 1-6;S. Mayer 7-40;A. Hill 41;J. Clements 42;K. Larson(i) 43-57;S. Mayer 58;K. Larson(i) 59-74;J. Nemechek 75;K. Larson(i) 76-89;J. Nemechek 90-92;J. Allgaier 93;G. Gaulding 94;C. Hocevar(i) 95-97;J. Nemechek 98-127;J. Allgaier 128;P. Emerling 129;J. Nemechek 130-146;K. Larson(i) 147;A. Hill 148.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): John Hunter Nemechek 5 times for 57 laps; Kyle Larson(i) 4 times for 46 laps; Sam Mayer 2 times for 35 laps; Carson Hocevar(i) 1 time for 3 laps; Justin Allgaier 2 times for 2 laps; Austin Hill 2 times for 2 laps; Patrick Emerling 1 time for 1 lap; Jeremy Clements 1 time for 1 lap; Gray Gaulding 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 10,20,21,00,1,19,2,9,11,25
Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,10,7,1,00,21,39,8,48,18

Owen Johnson