NorCal Racing

Larson takes high route to claim win

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Xfinity series driver Kyle Larson celebrates his win in victory lane Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.

Xfinity series driver Kyle Larson celebrates his win in victory lane Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.

JOLIET – After winning the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity Series Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, Kyle Larson got moved to the back of the pack after needing to replace a low right front tire after qualifying.

But Larson went to the high side of the track and quickly made up big ground to get back in the mix and then not only put himself in a position to win the race, but also led for 80 laps, including most of the final stages of the event to win in dominating fashion.

Kevin Harvick, who was seeking his fourth Xfinity Series win at Chicagoland Speedway and led for 38 laps, finished second while Cole Custer took third place. Daniel Suarez and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five while Elliott Sadler was sixth, and defending race champion Justin Allgaier claimed seventh place.

It was Larson’s first race win in Joliet, as well as his second Xfinity victory of the season and the 10th of his career. After a race of 2:13 in cars estimated at 150 degrees, drivers such as Larson, Harvick and Suarez had to qualify a short time later for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400.

“For the most part, it was somewhat tight on the bottom and then I’d move up to the top and I’d be a little freer and a little quicker,” Larson said. “The long runs paid off for us and we had a really good green flag stop and was able to gap him even more. We were hoping that no cautions came out since restarts are always intense in the Xfinity Series. Thankfully it didn’t happen and we were able to get the win. It was nice to finally get a win that we deserved.”

Like Larson, Custer also started at the back of the field due to an unapproved tire change, but moved his way up to claim the top spot in the points standings.

Custer moved into first place with 541 points while Hemric is next with 538 points and former series leader Sadler dropped to third with 537 points. All three of the leaders in the series still are in search of their first victories of the season.

“We really just had a great car,” Custer said. “We probably were the best car out here, but Kyle Larson is probably the best driver at Chicago so it was a little hard to catch him when he started running top. This definitely gives us some confidence, but now we’re fighting for wins every single weekend, so you start getting disappointed if you don’t win. I think we’re happy with where we’re at and we were knocking on the door this weekend of having a win.”

In the early going, Tyler Reddick and Suarez exchanged leads with Reddick regaining the advantage and remaining in front through lap 45 to capture the first stage. A short time later, the cars went to the pits where Reddick had problems and fell out of the top 10. He owned the lead for 35 laps.

After a brief lead by Harvick, Christopher Bell moved in front and held the advantage for the next 20 laps. But on lap 72, Larson passed those two drivers to take the lead and still was in front on lap 90 to win the second stage.

Shortly after a second caution led to a restart just before the midway mark, there was a three-car collision that knocked out Reddick, who had made a big move before being penalized for speeding on pit road. After that restart, Harvick moved past Larson, who regained the lead and held it from laps 142 to 169.

Brandon Jones stayed on the track while most pitted to lead for 11 laps before Larson moved back in front on lap 181 and maintained a comfortable advantage over Harvick after that.

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