Kyle Larson had to go 10 extra laps on Friday night, but the payoff was worth it.
Holding off a determined Justin Allgaier in overtime, Larson won the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, collecting his first victory at the .533-mile high-banked concrete short track.
“It feels really, really cool to win here finally at Bristol,” said Larson, who won for the fourth time in six starts this season and the 12th time in his career. “I’ve been close so many times. It’s my best racetrack by far, I feel like — this and Homestead.
“It feels real cool to win.”
Cool, perhaps, but certainly not easy. Leading the race for the overtime restart on Lap 309, Larson spun his tires in the top lane, allowing Allgaier, who was second to his inside, to run side-by-side into the first corner.
Allgaier continued to contest the position, but Larson cleared him on the last lap, and series leader Christopher Bell surged past Allgaier to take the second spot. Allgaier got loose after contact in Turn 4 but won a drag race to the stripe against Cole Custer to hold the third position.
Custer scored his 11th top 10 in the last 12 Xfinity races. Joey Logano ran fifth and Elliott Sadler sixth.
In Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Larson will go far a double in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event (6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Before Friday’s Xfinity race, he won the pole for the Cup race in the sister No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
“Hopefully, we can get another tomorrow night, and that would be really special as well,” said Larson. “It’s just really exciting because I’ve been so close so many times, and I thought Bell was going to steal this one from me a couple times throughout the race. He was really good. He and I have very similar driving styles.
“We had the yellow there with two to go and I was like, ‘Man, again, again. I’m going to lose another one late.’ But we were able to get an average restart and get the win. I can’t wait until tomorrow.”
Larson had a comfortable lead when NASCAR called the eight caution of the night for Daniel Hemric’s spin off turn 4 and crash against the inside wall. That extended the race for 10 laps beyond its scheduled 300 and forced Larson to survive a final restart.
Pole winner Kyle Busch was dominant in the early going, building a lead of more than five seconds and lapping up to the 12th position before disaster struck on Lap 66. Busch drove high through Turns 1 and 2, shot through a layer of rubber at the top of the track and scraped the outside wall.
He was still leading on Lap 70 when his right front tire deflated, sending the No. 18 Toyota into the Turn 2 wall again and finally into the barrier in Turn 3. Busch brought his car to pit road and ultimately retired from the race with a broken front suspension.
“Just rubber on top of rubber,” Busch said succinctly after a visit to the infield care center. “The rubber buildup that was happening… I just got into the corner a little too hot and just got up into the fence a little bit and then, I don’t know, two or three laps later, it blew out.”
Larson took over where Busch left off, leading 202 laps, sweeping the first two stages and taking the checkered flag at the end.
Notes: The No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano (fifth-place finish) was found to have two loose lug nuts in post-race inspection. The No. 12 Team Penske Ford of Austin Cindric (14th-place finish) and the No. 76 SS Green Light Racing Chevrolet Spencer Boyd (25th-place finish) was found to have three loose lug nuts in post-race inspection. Any potential penalties will be announced next week.