NorCal Racing

Kyle Larson rides the wall to win NASCAR Xfinity Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland Speedway

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Kyle Larson had the fastest car during qualifying for Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Just to prove it again, he came from the back and passed everybody on the track to win the race by a large margin.

It was Larson’s second win in three Xfinity appearances this season and the 10th of his career. The Elk Grove, Calif., resident is ninth in the Monster Energy Cup Series standings.

Running his fastest laps inches from the wall, Larson beat Kevin Harvick by 8.030 seconds in a race that was caution-free over the final 80 laps.

“I don’t know how many races I’ve won when I’ve dominated like this,” Larson said. “But I know I’ve been leading a lot of races like this when cautions came out.

“It was nice to finally get a win that we deserved. It was a lot of fun.”

Larson won the pole position, but had to start 40th because he changed a right front tire that had been going down.

By the end of the 45-lap first stage — won by Tyler Reddick — Larson was running sixth. He took the lead for the first time on lap 72, going three-wide with Harvick and Christopher Bell.

“I took my time getting to the front,” Larson said. “I thought I would get there a little quicker than I did, but I had to be careful.

“I was really loose. Running the top it was really sketchy. I tried to take care of the right side. I got the wall just barely a couple of times. But we were able to keep the right side somewhat clean.”

Cole Custer came from the back to finish third, ahead of Daniel Suarez, Daniel Hemric and Elliott Sadler.

Quick timer: Paul Menard earned the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Overton’s 400, pending inspection. It was Menard’s second career pole and his first since 2008.

“My guys did a heck of a job,” Menard said. “We weren’t good in practice. We did a mock run and I was so loose it aborted. But the car has speed.”

Ryan Blaney will start outside front row, with Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin in the second row.

Going for 3: Martin Truex Jr., is not only going into Sunday’s Overton’s 400 off a win at Sonoma, he’s a two-time defending champion at Chicagoland Speedway.

Neither of the Chicagoland victories was routine.

In 2016, Truex had to overcome a shredded tire that put him a lap down. In 2017, a penalty for speeding on pit lane put him in catch up mode.

Issues aside, Truex dominated in both events at the Joliet oval.

“This track has always been really good for me,” Truex said before Saturday’s first practice. “Obviously the last two years, it’s been really good.

“I don’t know if I do anything special here or if it’s just that we figured out something special here that we just hit on for two years. We’ll see how this weekend goes. It will be different for sure.”

Truex went into the weekend fifth in the points standings, with three victories and 10 top five finishes in 16 races.

Personality-plus: Saturday’s appearance in the Overton’s 300 was Harvick’s fourth in an Xfinity race this season.

Bumps and all, Chicagoland Speedway is one of his favorite tracks.

“I normally don’t run race tracks on Saturday unless I enjoy them,” Harvick said. “Obviously, this is a race track I enjoy and look forward to making every lap because of the fact it’s a challenge to drive.”

The 1.5-mile track, opened in 2001, has never been repaved. The general consensus among drivers is that it never should be.

“I think it’s great,” Truex said. “Any time we can make the track more difficult, it can add to the racing. This place has been bumpy for the last few years and it seems like every year it gets worse.

“That’s a good thing. I enjoy this place because of that. It seems like bumpy tracks put on really good racing.”

abaranek@tribpub.com

Twitter @TBaranek



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