For the third time in 2021, Kyle Larson finished one spot ahead of Chase Elliott Sunday winning on the Watkins Glen road course for his fifth win this season and the 11th of his career.
Larson took the lead for the final time after a round of green flag stops that saw his crew get him out ahead of Martin Truex Jr. who was leading at the time, with 33 laps to go. After the stops cycled through, Larson was at the point with 25 to go.
His biggest challenger soon became Elliott, who had started in the rear of the field after his car failed pre-race inspection three times. Elliott was able to charge through the field in the final laps taking second from Truex with 9 laps to go.
In the closing laps Elliott made up 10 seconds but Larson turned up the heat and navigated a group of lapped cars winning by 2.4 seconds over Elliott. Larson said that group of cars had him worried in the final laps.
“I was,” Larson said. “Chase was already catching me pretty quick, even with me being in open track, so when I caught those, I think, four cars and got into the 38 right here, I thought I would look at my mirror and the 9 would be right on me, but thankfully had a comfortable enough gap to where I could make a mistake like that.”
The inspection failure for Elliott’s team not only forced him to start from the rear but led to an L1 penalty that send his crew chief packing with a $25,000 fine and a loss of 10 points.
“I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately, and made it too late in the race,” Elliott said. “Super proud of our team. Been kind of an uphill battle all day, but everybody was just super prepared coming into the day, and our NAPA team just did a really good job of fighting it.”
Truex who won Stage 2 and led a race high 34 laps had to settle for third. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.
The only issue for Larson came on lap 54 as he was racing Christopher Bell for second. Entering Turn 1, Larson bounced off the inside curb and got into Bell sending Bell spinning. Larson apologized to Bell after the race.
“I was inside but I wasn’t inside enough,” Larson said. “And I didn’t — I needed to have the nose a few feet further ahead, and the angles just caught there in the middle and I ended up turning him. I hate that. I race with him a lot. He’s probably the one guy that I race with the most in all my racing, so hate to turn him like that. We’ve had incredible races together.”
Bell would rally to finish seventh just behind William Byron. Kevi Harvick, Chase Briscoe, and Tyler Reddick completed the top 10.
Larson and Elliott have now finished 1-2 four times with Larson owning three wins over his Hendrick teammate. A total of 10 races out of 23 have now been won by Hendrick drivers, including Larsons series high five wins.
“It’s awesome,” Larson said. “I mean, it really just shows how good the organization is, all the people that they’ve assembled at their race shop, all the men and women. All four of us could not be getting these wins like we have been without them. Thanks to them, and thanks to everybody else I get to race for. Get to go to Iowa this week and chase another big win, so looking forward to that, and hopefully can just keep racking these wins up.”
Polesitter Brad Keselowski led only 9 laps on the day, his car spinning several times including coming to the end of Stage 1 which was won by his Penske teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski finished 35th three laps down. After winning Stage 1 Logano led 11 laps but finished 22nd.
With his win and Hamlin’s fifth place finish, Larson and Hamlin are now tied in the regular season points with three races left before the Playoffs.
“It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end I think,” Hamlin said.
The NASCAR Cup series makes its Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course debut next Sunday. It will mark the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has raced on the famed track’s road course since it began racing at Indianapolis in 1994.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Go Bowling at The Glen
Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, New York
Sunday, August 8, 2021
- (4) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90.
- (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 90.
- (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 90.
- (20) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90.
- (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.
- (15) William Byron, Chevrolet, 90.
- (7) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 90.
- (5) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 90.
- (27) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 90.
- (13) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 90.
- (14) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 90.
- (12) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 90.
- (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 90.
- (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 90.
- (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 90.
- (8) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.
- (24) Chris Buescher, Ford, 90.
- (19) Cole Custer, Ford, 90.
- (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 90.
- (10) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90.
- (25) Michael McDowell, Ford, 90.
- (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 90.
- (26) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 90.
- (29) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 90.
- (28) Ryan Newman, Ford, 89.
- (31) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 89.
- (22) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 89.
- (23) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 89.
- (30) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 89.
- (33) Kyle Tilley, Ford, 89.
- (21) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 88.
- (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 88.
- (34) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 88.
- (37) RC Enerson, Chevrolet, 88.
- (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 87.
- (32) Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 87.
- (36) James Davison, Ford, Electrical, 41.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 101.031 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 10 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.430 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 6 laps.
Lead Changes: 7 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski 1-9;J. Logano 10-20;K. Larson 21;R. Stenhouse Jr. 22;M. Truex Jr. 23-56;D. Hamlin 57-62;K. Busch 63-64;K. Larson 65-90.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 34 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 27 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 11 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 9 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 6 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 2 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,5,11,8,24,18,48,9,3,43
Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,20,4,5,14,42,21,11,22,18
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