Larson takes Fontana Xfinity win after thrilling battle
Kyle Larson continued his dominance at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday by winning the Xfinity Series race.
Larson led 21 laps en route to his sixth NXS win, but it was the race off of pit road with five laps remaining that enabled the No. 42 Chevy to take the lead on the final restart and sail off to the win.
“Everybody, good run, pit crew you’re (freakin’) awesome,” Larson said as he took the checkered flag.
Logano, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and William Byron rounded out the top-five finishers. Darrell Wallace finished sixth for the fourth-straight race.
"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.”
Logano led the field to the line for the Service King 300. He had a 2.1-second lead after the first 10 laps and started lapping cars one circuit later.
After the first 20 laps, Logano held onto the lead followed by Daniel Hemric, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Cole Custer, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Ty Dillon and Brennan Poole. Busch and Jones passed Hemric on Lap 23 while Custer held onto fifth.
Matt Tifft triggered the first caution when he spun off of Turn 2. Logano brought the leaders to pit road but received a speeding penalty and was forced to drop 35th on the restart. Busch took the lead off of pit road and lined up behind Jeremy Clements and J.J. Yeley, who stayed on the track. He quickly took the lead and held on to win the first stage followed by Sadler, Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Ty Dillon, Poole, Custer, Menard and Ryan Reed.
Kyle Busch led the field to green for the second stage on Lap 41, but Kyle Larson jumped out to the lead on the first lap. Busch and Larson battled for the lead on Lap 48 with the No. 18 car prevailing on Lap 49.
Coming from 35th to start Stage 2, following a speeding penalty on Lap 32, Logano powered through the field. He gained seven spots on the first lap, moved up to fifth on Lap 49, then passed Ty Dillon and Erik Jones for third. On Lap 55, Logano passed Larson for second but trailed Busch by 1.226-seconds.
Busch won the second stage holding off Logano by 2.695-seconds at the line. Jones was third followed by Larson, Sadler, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole and William Byron.
There were a rash of penalties during pit stops between Stage 2 and 3. Larson was busted for speeding and restarted 24th. Menard was penalized for too many men over the wall and started alongside Larson.
Busch held the point when the race went green for the final segment on Lap 77, but Logano took the lead on the restart. The No. 22 held the point until Lap 81 when Ross Chastain wrecked after contact with JJ Yeley.
Logano lined up on the outside of Busch for the restart, while William Byron took the field three-wide into Turn 1. When the field cycled around, Busch led Lap 89 but Logano went to the outside and regained the lead.
With 57 laps remaining, Logano had extended his lead by 0.71-seconds over Busch followed by Jones, Menard, Byron, Sadler, Cole Custer, Larson, Dillon and Poole. As the field came around Turn 4, Jones misjudged his line and ran into the back of Menard, sending the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevy into the spin cycle.
“My bad, I guess,” Jones said after igniting the fifth caution.
Logano brought the leaders down pit road but the No. 22 Ford fell off of the jack on the stop and delayed his departure. Logano, who had led 48 laps, dropped to 26th for the restart.
Busch came off pit road first for the Lap 101 restart followed by Jones, Larson, Byron, Dillon, Poole, Bubba Wallace, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed and Spencer Gallagher. Thirty-three cars remained on the lead lap.
Larson took the lead after the first lap, followed by Byron, Busch, Poole, Jones, Allgaier, Dillon, Gallagher, Tifft and Logano. Byron dropped to fifth when Custer was tagged by Ryan Sieg and hit the Turn 1 wall to ignite the sixth caution. He was running 14th.
“Last week it was all my fault and I’ll take that all on me,” Custer said. "Today it was just a clown. I don’t understand what his reasoning was to pay us back that much, but that’s just a joke.”
While Larson, Erik Jones, Byron and Poole elected to pit, Busch stayed on the track for the lead on the Lap 114 restart with 36 circuits remaining. Allgaier was alongside followed by Logano, Tifft, Hemric, Sieg, Reed, Gaughan, Annett and Brandon Jones.
On Lap 118, Logano moved to the inside of Busch and completed the pass for the lead. Allgaier ran third, but passed by Larson on the next circuit. Sadler, who developed issues with the floor of his car ran fifth.
With 30 laps remaining, Erik Jones passed Sadler and Allgaier for fourth, but his teammate Busch glanced off the wall. Busch continued on but dropped to fifth. Bushed passed Sadler with 25 laps to go.
On Lap 133, Larson came up on the back of Logano and came to the inside of the No. 22 at the start-finish line. Logano carried momentum off of Turn 2 and extended his lead to .774-seconds with 15 laps to go.
The battle continued between Logano and Larson. Larson led Lap 139 but Logano regained the point on the following circuit. Larson took the point again on Lap 141 when Brandon Jones hit the Turn 2 wall to bring out the seventh and final caution.
Larson was first off of pit road followed by Spencer Gallagher, whose team elected to take two tires on the final pit stop. Logano was third followed by Busch, Sadler, Byron, Allgaier, Wallace, Erik Jones and Poole. Larson pulled out to a half-second lead over Logano with two laps remaining and held the point to the finish.
“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome,” Larson said. “I had a couple-lap fresher tires than him and was able to chase him down and just tried to pace around him, got by him, then made a mistake trying to block him off of (turn) 4. Then got back by. That was a lot of fun. “I wish that last caution wouldn’t have come out because it would have been a little easier for me to win. But a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we would be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice. Fought the balance a lot throughout the race, too. Finally, the last few runs we hit on it and it felt good for the short run and throughout the long run. So I can’t say enough about everyone on our ENEOS Chevy team.
"Happy with our second win in California, hope we can do it tomorrow."
There were 18 lead changes among six drivers. Logano led the most laps — 70 of 150.
Elliott Sadler leads the Xfinity standings by 17 points over rookie William Byron.
The No. 6 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford was found to have an improperly installed lug nut after the race. The race-winning No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and second-place No. 22 Team Penske Ford are being taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center, as well as the engine of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
|6||6||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Ford||150||2.635|
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