Kyle Larson Wins COTA Xfinity Race, Shane Van Gisbergen Receives After-Race Penalty

nascar xfinity series focused health 250
Larson Wins COTA, SVG Receives After Race PenaltyJonathan Bachman - Getty Images

AUSTIN, TEXAS - The Xfinity Series Focused Health 250 at Circuit of The Americas was marred with track limit penalties, setting many favorites up for heartbreak.

The race was either AJ Allmendinger's or Shane van Gisbergen's to lose, and they both did. Only eight laps into the race, the Kaulig Racing teammates had a nine-second lead on the rest of the field. They stayed dominant and were running 1-2 deep in the final stage when a reasonably clean race started to turn chippy.

nascar xfinity series focused health 250
Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

In the final stage, van Gisbergen was pacing ahead of Allmendinger and Kyle Larson in the hopes of winning his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race and second NASCAR race.

With four to go, Ed Jones exited the track at turn 11, causing a late-stage caution to set the field for an overtime finish. The restart gave Allmendinger another chance at van Gisbergen.

Larson pitted from fourth for fresh tires in the hopes that mayhem would breed mayhem and his No. 17 Hendrick Chevrolet would be set up for a surprise win. This strategy call would put Larson in the position to win his first Xfinity Series race at COTA.

Van Gisbergen protected the inside of the notorious Turn 1 hill to reclaim the lead with two laps remaining. Just halfway around the circuit, Riley Herbst, Ryan Ellis, and Leland Honeyman were involved in a large wreck, triggering the second green-white-checker attempt.

Allmendinger was sent to the tail of the pack for a track limit violation; the driver cut through the esses on the single green flag lap.

On the second overtime restart, van Gisbergen does not have the same luck in protecting the inside and is passed by Sage Karam and Austin Hill. Van Gisbergen made quick work of Karam, and Larson came with. Van Gisbergen worked to get to Hill’s back bumper as they rounded the circuit for the second to final time.

With his fresher tires, anywhere that van Gisbergen went, Larson could challenge the Australian Supercars driver. Van Gisbergen had to deal with the threat of Hill through his front window and in his rearview of Larson. Dragging Larson with him, the Cup Series regular pitted after the first late race caution for fresh tires since he wasn’t running for points. If van Gisbergen ever gave a window, he knew that Larson would be coming through.

In turn 15, van Gisbergen moved Hill to the outside, and Larson had the open track to himself; with fresh tires, he made quick work of the two battling off-track. Hill took second back by passing van Gisbergen on the outside as they entered turn 16.

Larson would claim the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chervelot its first Xfinity win, and van Gisbergen would cross the finish line in second, one position ahead of Hill.

Larson knew that the battle between Hill and van Gisbergen could be his hail mary after starting at the back of the pack and his off-sequence pitstop.

"I feel like any time we run this 17 car, any of us four drivers, we're always the fastest on the track, and we just somehow give it away," Larson said in his front stretch interview. "Today, we definitely were not the fastest, but we were patient. I knew that the No. 21 shoved SVG through [Turn 1]. I knew that if he got to him, it could get dicey. I was trying to be patient; I was thinking of where to make my move."

Moments after Larson finished celebrating in Victory Lane, NASCAR reported that van Gisbergen received a 30-second penalty for exceeding track limits, moving him from 2nd to 27th. This was one of 17 track limit penalties given in the Xfinity series race.

You Might Also Like