With only five to go at Watkins Glen, Kyle Larson was running a comfortable third after a restart while his teammate William Byron battled Ty Gibbs in front of him for the lead. But an aggressive move by Gibbs caused both to wreck, parting the seas for Larson to lead the last five laps and take the win.
“I got lucky,” Larson admitted. “The seas parted and I was able to get through but then I had A.J. [Allmendinger] behind me so just trying to hit my marks best I could. He definitely made me nervous with me being out in front of him.”
“So cool to get a win here,” he added, “and Rick Hendrick is here too. Wish William and I could have fought for the win there though.”
It wasn’t a cruise home for Larson, though. Before he could score his eleventh Xfinity Series win, he had to hold off AJ Allmendinger, the best road course driver in series history.
With his second-place finish, though, Allmendinger extends his championship lead, especially considering that his two closest rivals crashed out. He now sits 61 points ahead of Ty Gibbs and 70 points ahead of Justin Allgaier in third with four races to go before the Playoffs.
Eighteen-year-old rookie Sammy Smith enjoyed a career day at Watkins Glen. His third-place finish is a career high, and he led another career-high seven laps during the race.
“I learned a lot,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. “It was a good day overall. We had a good day as a team and I was able to capitalize. The last few races I didn’t feel like I was able to capitalize and I feel like I did a better job today. Looking forward to Daytona next week.”
Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala rounded out the top five behind Smith. Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Sheldon Creed, Josh Berry and Jeremy Clements rounded out the top ten.
Byron and Gibbs ultimately finished 25th and 27th respectively after more contact in the closing laps. Byron claimed he “got wrecked,” while Gibbs called it a racing incident.
“I mean, it’s racing,” Gibbs said. “I want to put a show on and I don’t want to wreck everybody, but I want to go for the win. That’s what I was going for. I went in there side-by-side and I went for it and it didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens.”
He added that Byron “came up to me and asked me where I was going. I told him my side. I feel like he told me his side. I feel like I got pinched up on the curb so hard. I feel like the bus stop is not made for two cars to go through at the same time.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action next week at Daytona International Speedway with the WaWa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley is the defending race winner.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results Sunoco Go Rewards 200
Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, New York
Saturday, August 20, 2022
1. (3) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 82.
2. (4) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 82.
3. (19) Sammy Smith, Toyota, 82.
4. (16) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 82.
5. (14) Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 82.
6. (7) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 82.
7. (6) Riley Herbst, Ford, 82.
8. (11) Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 82.
9. (17) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 82.
10. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 82.
11. (5) Cole Custer(i), Ford, 82.
12. (23) Stefan Parsons(i), Chevrolet, 82.
13. (34) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 82.
14. (35) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 82.
15. (13) Connor Mosack(i), Toyota, 82.
16. (20) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 82.
17. (21) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 82.
18. (26) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 82.
19. (33) Andy Lally, Ford, 82.
20. (27) Brad Perez(i), Toyota, 82.
21. (31) Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, 82.
22. (25) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 82.
23. (32) Scott Heckert, Chevrolet, 82.
24. (12) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 82.
25. (1) William Byron(i), Chevrolet, 82.
26. (37) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 82.
27. (2) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 82.
28. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 81.
29. (38) Blaine Perkins(i), Chevrolet, 80.
30. (8) Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 73.
31. (9) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, Accident, 58.
32. (30) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, Axle, 51.
33. (29) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, Accident, 50.
34. (36) Kris Wright(i), Chevrolet, Driveshaft, 30.
35. (18) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, Accident, 26.
36. (24) Patrick Gallagher, Ford, Rear Gear, 14.
37. (28) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, Accident, 8.
38. (10) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 4.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 77.651 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.273 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: W. Byron(i) 1-7;T. Gibbs 8;W. Byron(i) 9-10;T. Gibbs 11-16;A. Allmendinger 17-18;S. Smith 19-23;K. Larson(i) 24;W. Byron(i) 25-32;K. Larson(i) 33;W. Byron(i) 34-51;A. Allmendinger 52;S. Smith 53;R. Herbst 54-57;J. Clements 58-59;T. Gibbs 60-77;K. Larson(i) 78-82.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): William Byron(i) 4 times for 35 laps; Ty Gibbs 3 times for 25 laps; Kyle Larson(i) 3 times for 7 laps; Sammy Smith 2 times for 6 laps; Riley Herbst 1 time for 4 laps; AJ Allmendinger 2 times for 3 laps; Jeremy Clements 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,16,48,51,34,45,17,2,88,08
Stage #2 Top Ten: 17,54,16,9,88,2,8,48,92,26
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