Race Weekend Central

Kyle Larson Snatches Xfinity COTA Win in 11th-Hour Pass

Kyle Larson won a three-car fight in overtime to take home the checkered flag in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Focused Health 250 on Saturday (March 23) at the Circuit of the Americas.

With fresh tires, Larson’s No. 17 Chevy was able to chase down the top two of Shane van Gisbergen and Austin Hill

After Hill moved van Gisbergen for the lead with two to go, van Gisbergen tried to pay him back in turn 15 of the final lap with a push of his own.

Larson managed to move underneath both and secured the win after starting from the rear. 

“I knew if (van Gisbergen) got to him it could get dicey,” Larson told FOX Sports 1 post-race. “I was just trying to be patient, thinking when to make my move and thankfully I saw him move low in turn 15 and 16 and shove him low. I thought, ‘All right, this could get good,’ and thankfully I cleared them off that corner. Pretty crazy. Just wild.”

Van Gisbergen came across the line second but was given a 30-second penalty post race for corner cutting on the final lap. The penalty relegated him to 27th.

“That last restart (Hill) just drove through me in turn 1,” van Gisbergen said. “I guess that’s just how it is here. I stood up for myself. It was still some pretty awesome racing with AJ, Kyle and then at the end it just turned into a mess. But that’s how it is. It’s really fun but I wish I could have gotten the lead. Kyle snuck through there. He was driving really well.”

Hill was moved up to second after the penalty. The driver of the No. 21 Chevy voiced his displeasure with van Gisbergen’s move in the form of a few door slams when both passed the finish line. By the time FS1 caught up with Hill, it seemed things had calmed down.

“Obviously I’m frustrated that we just lost the race, but hell of a job by everyone on our Bennett Chevrolet,” Hill said. “We had such a fast car all day.”

John Hunter Nemechek, who also started in the rear of the field and suffered a pair of penalties, finished third. Cole Custer took fourth.

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Parker Kligerman rounded out the top-five and was involved in a brief post-race argument with Sage Karam, who finished 17th.

Jesse Love, Austin Green, Chandler Smith, Sam Mayer and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10 finishers.

Allmendinger led 19 laps and was in contention until he was penalized for exceeding track limits in turn 6 on lap 46 to avoid a collision with Kligerman. Kligerman also cut the corner after jumping the curbs in turn 5 but was not penalized. 

Van Gisbergen and Allmendinger dominated the first stage, leading by 14 seconds before pitting before the stage break.

The Kaulig teammates’ pit strategy allowed Kligerman to win stage one. Their advantage allowed Allmendinger an eighth-place stage finish while van Gisbergen nabbed the 10th and final points-paying stage position.

After the leaders pitted late again in stage two, Brandon Jones looked to be the beneficiary with a stage win. NASCAR took the stage points away after Jones cut the corner in turn 4 on the last lap of the stage, making second-place Riley Herbst the stage winner.

Jones would recover in the final stage for a 16th-place finish.

The race looked like it would be settled between Kaulig teammates in Allmendinger and van Gisbergen until a caution with four laps to go forced overtime.

Ed Jones spun in turn 11 and stalled out, relegating the NTT IndyCar Series veteran to a 35th-place finish in his series debut.

On the following restart, Hill managed to move into second while the field scrambled behind them.

The caution came out again after contact between Leland Honeyman and former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat led to a stack up. Ryan Ellis and Herbst were both collected and suffered terminal damage.

Ellis finished 33rd and Herbst was 34th.

During the ensuing caution, Ty Gibbs ran into Allmendinger and suffered damage to the nose of his No. 19 Toyota. After running near the front the majority of the day, Gibbs would finish 24th.

Sheldon Creed finished 32nd after an alternator problem put the No. 18 Toyota in the garage for a few laps.

Sammy Smith finished 36th with broken axel that forced him to retire 14 laps from the finish.

While his teammates led the majority of the day, Josh Williams finished last in the 38-car field after retiring due to overheating issues. Daniel Hemric had practiced and qualified the car on Friday as Williams was taking care of his newborn child.

Xfinity COTA Results

The Xfinity Series travels to Richmond Raceway next Saturday (March 30) for the ToyotaCare 250. The race is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET, with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

James Krause joined Frontstretch in March 2024 as a contributor. Krause was born and raised in Illinois and graduated from Northern Illinois University. He currently works in La Crosse, Wisconsin as a local sports reporter, including short track racing. Krause is a fan of football, auto racing, music, anime and video games.

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