“The Seas Parted” - Kyle Larson Gifted Glen Xfinity Victory After Gibbs and Byron Spin

(WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUG 20, 2022 – RIS) Kyle Larson finally got to victory lane at an Xfinity Series road course, winning the Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at Watkins Glen International. Larson dodged the spinning race lead pair of William Byron and Ty Gibbs at the ‘Bus Stop’ chicane late in the race and drove on to the win after leading only seven laps of the 82-lap race. William Byron had the dominant car in the race, leading 35 laps before the late race spin dropped him out of the top twenty. Ty Gibbs led 25 more laps before the contact with Byron, eventually getting the short end of Byron’s ire and dropping back to 27th in the finishing order.

Justin Allgaier became the first victim of the Esses at Watkins Glen, spinning into the left-hand barrier when he entered Turn Three a little wide in traffic and nosing into the blue wall just before the top of the hill.

On the restart, William Byron and Ty Gibbs raced hard, often side-by-side in places not usually done at the Glen, before Byron managed to edge ahead, with AJ Allmendinger third, Cole Custer fourth and Sam Mayer fifth. Gibbs grabbed the lead from Byron exiting the ‘Inner Loop’ (Bus Stop) to lead from lap ten.

Patrick Gallagher parked at the chicane with a major mechanical failure, causing the second caution period of the race while the car got recovered. Sammy Smith and Allmendinger led the pack with Daytona Truck Series winner from 20?? Kaz Grala third as the last two laps in the first stage wound down.

Smith took Stage One, followed by Allmendinger, Grala, Jeremy Clements and Kyle Weatherman ran top five at the end of the stage while Myatt Snider smacked the wall and Riley Herbst spun across the bus stop, sending a gaggle of cars through the shortcut to avoid contact

William Byron and Kyle Larson led the field to a restart after Alex Labbe’s slide into the wall outside of the Esses entry with Byron taking the lead from his teammate followed by Ty Gibbs and Cole Custer, with Sheldon Creed running fifth.

Byron and Larson led into the restart again, with Sheldon Creed snatching second from Larson. Gibbs had fourth place handed to him when Larson ceded the entry to the back straight and Gibbs went on to challenge Creed for position approaching the end of the second stage. Gibbs eased around for second on the front straight. Cole Custer spun out of the chicane but continued while AJ Allmendinger swept into third place as the second stage wound down.

Byron, Gibbs, ‘Dinger, Gragson, Larson, Creed, Berry, Grala, Chastain and Mosack 

Scheduled pit stops with 30 laps to go saw Ty Gibbs’ team get him out of the pits just ahead of Byron with Byron pressuring the younger driver for position. 

Daniel Hemric nosed hard into the tires at the entry to the Carousel, burying the car windshield deep in the tire bundles but exiting the car on his own to walk to the ambulance. “I guess a left front tire popped,” said Hemric later.

Gibbs and Byron went into the first turn side by side but Gibbs moved into the lead with Kyle Larson slotting into second behind Gibbs. Byron retook second starting the second lap under green with Allmendinger and Gragson right behind Larson.

At eight laps left, Ross Chastain beached his car in the gravel trap exiting Turn Six. The No 92 got pulled out and continued. On the restart, Gibbs and Byron made contact in the chicane, handing the lead to Kyle Larson with Allmendinger second, Sammy Smith third and Kaz Grala fourth with Noah Gragson fifth.

“I got lucky,” Larson admitted. “My only shot really was the 54 and Byron got racing – they got together and the seas parted…”

Ty Gibbs described the late race collision: “We had a good start and he (William Byron) kind of washed up a little bit, but we had a good start,” he said. “I stayed side-by-side with him and I felt like I had a good side draft going with him heading into the bus stop to where it helped me get position…. I had good position, I just didn’t put myself in a good spot on the curbs and and it just got me loose, I washed up into him and wrecked us both.

“It was my fault, but I was going for the win. I didn’t just want to pull over and let him go. Sorry to the 17 guys and to William. We put on a great show and I feel like he raced me well and I raced him well until I wrecked him. It was a good battle.”

Gibbs was asked about a talk with Byron after the race ended: “He (William Byron) just came up to me and asked me where I was going. I told him my side. I feel like he told me his side. I feel like I got pinched up on the curb so hard. I feel like the bus stop is not made for two cars to go through at the same time. I was going for the win and it was my fault.

“I mean, it’s racing. I want to put a show on and I don’t want to wreck everybody, but I want to go for the win. That’s what I was going for. I went in there side-by-side and I went for it and it didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens.”

Unofficial Results: Sunoco Go Rewards 200, August 20, 2022 - Watkins Glen International
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps , St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 3, Kyle Larson(i), No. 88 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 82, 9, 5, 3, 7, , 0, Running
2) 4, AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, 82, 2, 3, 2, 3, , 52, Running
3) 19, Sammy Smith, No. 18 Pilot Flying J Toyota, 82, 1, , 2, 6, 1, 44, Running
4) 16, Noah Gragson, No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, 82, , 4, , , , 40, Running
5) 14, Kaz Grala(i), No. 48 Ruedebusch.com Big Machine Chevrolet, 82, 3, 8, , , , 0, Running
6) 7, Sam Mayer, No. 1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 31, Running
7) 6, Riley Herbst, No. 98 Monster Energy Ford, 82, , , 1, 4, , 30, Running
8) 11, Sheldon Creed #, No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet, 82, 8, 6, , , , 37, Running
9) 17, Josh Berry, No. 8 Tire Pros Summer for Heroes Chevrolet, 82, , 7, , , , 32, Running
10) 22, Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet Chevrolet, 82, 4, , 1, 2, , 34, Running
11) 5, Cole Custer(i), No. 07 Bucked Up Energy Drink Ford, 82, , , , , , 0, Running
12) 23, Stefan Parsons(i), No. 44 Kelly Mitsubishi Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 0, Running
13) 34, Ryan Sieg, No. 39 A-GAME Ford, 82, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 35, Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 R Stone/Coble Enterprises Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 0, Running
15) 13, Connor Mosack(i), No. 26 Rad Cats Toyota, 82, , 10, , , , 0, Running
16) 20, Landon Cassill, No. 10 Carnomaly Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 21, Josh Bilicki(i), No. 45 Sargento Chevrolet, 82, 6, , , , , 0, Running
18) 26, Anthony Alfredo, No. 23 Death Wish Coffee Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 33, Andy Lally, No. 08 Refology Ford, 82, 10, , , , , 19, Running
20) 27, Brad Perez(i), No. 35 WEISS Toyota, 82, , , , , , 0, Running
21) 31, Preston Pardus, No. 91 Chinchor Electric/GSD Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 25, Kyle Weatherman, No. 34 SELE Foundation Chevrolet, 82, 5, , , , , 21, Running
23) 32, Scott Heckert, No. 78 Malco Automotive Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 12, Brandon Jones, No. 19 Menards/Magickwoods Toyota, 82, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 1, William Byron(i), No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 82, 7, 1, 4, 35, , 0, Running
26) 37, Bayley Currey, No. 4 Hy-Vee Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 2, Ty Gibbs, No. 54 Cub Cadet Toyota, 82, , 2, 3, 25, , 19, Running
28) 15, Ross Chastain(i), No. 92 Protect Your Melon Chevrolet, 81, , 9, , , , 0, Running
29) 38, Blaine Perkins(i), No. 02 Robinson Fresh Chevrolet, 80, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 8, Austin Hill #, No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet, 73, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 9, Daniel Hemric, No. 11 AG1 - Athletic Greens Chevrolet, 58, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 30, Brandon Brown, No. 5 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet, 51, , , , , , 5, Axle
33) 29, Myatt Snider, No. 31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet, 50, , , , , , 4, Accident
34) 36, Kris Wright(i), No. 68 First National Bank Chevrolet, 30, , , , , , 0, Driveshaft
35) 18, Alex Labbe, No. 36 Larue Industrial Snowblowers Chevrolet, 26, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 24, Patrick Gallagher, No. 38 Belle Haven Ford, 14, , , , , , 1, Rear Gear
37) 28, Jeb Burton, No. 27 Ergodyne Work Gear Chevrolet, 8, , , , , , 1, Accident
38) 10, Justin Allgaier, No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet, 4, , , , , , 1, Accident

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 82 Laps, 200.9 Miles
Time: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 14 Secs.
Average Speed: 77.651 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.273 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 18, 16, 48, 51, 34, 45, 17, 2, 88, 08

Stage 2 Top 10: 17, 54, 16, 9, 88, 2, 8, 48, 92, 26

Comments: Kyle Larson won the Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at Watkins Glen International, his 13th victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Prior to the start, the following cars dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: Nos. 08, 4, 5, 7, 38, 66, 78, 88 (Unapproved Adjustments).

Failed to Qualify: (3) No. 32 Austin Wayne Self(i), No. 6 Spencer Pumpelly, No. 47 Stanton Barrett.

Cautions: 8 for 23 laps;
Laps: 6-8 (No. 7 Incident Turn 3 [None]);
17-18 (No. 38 Stopped on Track [None]);
22-23 (Stage 1 Conclusion [None]);
29-29 (No. 36 Stopped on Track [31]);
32-33 (No. 68 Stopped on Track [31]);
42-44 (Stage 2 Conclusion [31]);
60-67 (No. 11 Incident Turn 9 [21]);
76-77 (No. 92 Stuck in Gravel [21]).

Lead Changes: 15 among 7 drivers;
W. Byron(i) 1-7;
T. Gibbs 8;
W. Byron(i) 9-10;
T. Gibbs 11-16;
A. Allmendinger 17-18;
S. Smith 19-23;
K. Larson(i) 24;
W. Byron(i) 25-32;
K. Larson(i) 33;
W. Byron(i) 34-51;
A. Allmendinger 52;
S. Smith 53;
R. Herbst 54-57;
J. Clements 58-59;
T. Gibbs 60-77;
K. Larson(i) 78-82.

-XXX-

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2022, Issue 8, Posted 6:40 PM, 08.20.2022