LAS VEGAS – Kyle Larson put on a show in Sin City on Saturday afternoon, dominating the NASCAR Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his first victory of the season.
Larson started second and dominated the 200-lap event, leading a race-high 142 laps en route to his first Xfinity Series victory of the season and the ninth of his career.
Things nearly went awry for Larson during the final stage of the race when it looked like the winner was going to be determined by fuel mileage.
Larson was the race leader when the caution flag waved with 67 laps left for a crash involving rookie Austin Cindric in turn two. All of the leaders hit pit road, with Cole Custer getting off pit road first. Larson, meanwhile, had a slow pit stop and came off pit road in eighth.
“My guys are one of the best on pit road. I guess they said the left-rear wouldn’t come out,” Larson said. “I had been fighting a tight issue all day. Finally we got our car turning better when we had to come from eighth so that allowed me to get to the lead fairly easy.”
The race resumed with 62 laps left and Larson wasted little time getting back to the front. With 52 laps left Larson was up to third and he moved into second on the next lap. He returned to the top spot with 49 laps left when he got by Justin Allgaier just past the start/finish line.
Larson would continue to lead the field afterwards, but it wasn’t clear if Larson would be able to make it to the checkered flag on the fuel he had in the tank of his No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro.
Those worries were erased when Ryan Reed slammed the wall with 16 laps left, setting up another round of pit stops. Larson led the field down pit road and was able to get off pit road second behind Daytona Xfinity winner Tyler Reddick, with Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney following in third and fourth.
“I wish it would have went green I guess just because it would have been interesting to see if I could finally win a fuel mileage race,” Larson said.
When the race resumed with 11 laps left Reddick restarted as the leader on the outside, but Larson got a big push from Bell in third and was able to pull clear into the lead. The caution flag would quickly wave again moments later after Ross Chastain spun down the backstretch.
The green flag waved for the final time with seven laps left as Larson led Bell, Allgaier, Blaney and Reddick. Larson easily pulled clear in turn one as Bell spun the tires on his No. 20 Toyota. Once in front Larson comfortably held the lead, pulling away to the victory.
Larson said he wasn’t sure what happened to Bell on the final restart, but he gave credit to Bell for pushing him into the lead during the previous restart.
“I wasn’t sure if he had a bunch of wheel spin or if I just got a real good push,” Larson said of Bell. “Justin (Allgaier) did a great job pushing me on that last start. I actually had Bell push me real good the start before to get in front of Reddick and Blaney.
“Awesome day for DC Solar. I think this is their first win. I’m glad I could get them their first win in the Xfinity Series. I can’t thank everybody enough,” Larson said.
Bell finished second and gave a shout out to Keith Kunz Motorsports co-owners Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby post-race. Kunz and Willoughby have fielded midgets for both Larson and Bell and helped get them their big breaks in racing.
“I gotta say I hope Pete Willoughby and Keith Kunz are watching this. They were the two that put both me and Kyle on the national scene. It’s really cool to be able to run one-two,” Bell said.
Allgaier finished third, followed by Blaney and Elliott Sadler.
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