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Larson Holds Off Elliott at The Glen

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 8 2021

Kyle Larson takes the checkers at Watkins Glen. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson’s mini-slump ended Sunday as he returned to Victory Lane after winning the Go Bowling at the Glen NASCAR Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen International road circuit. Chase Elliott’s road dominance ended at the site of his first Cup win in August 2018_ but just barely.

The victory was Larson’s fifth of the season and second on a road course, as he won at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in early June. The California native scored his first win at the historic, 2.45-mile/seven-turn Watkins Glen track and the 11th of his career. But it was his first since prevailing at Nashville Superspeedway in mid-June, five races ago.

Great car, Larson said.

“Another amazing car,” said Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. “I could tell from about Lap 3 after I stopped making a bunch of mistakes that we were going to have a car that could win today.”

Larson’s victory came with a nice assist from his Hendrick Motorsports pit crew, who allowed him to pass leader Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing during a round of green flag stops on Lap 57 of the 90-lap/220.5-mile event.

The victory was the 10th for a Hendrick car this season as all four of its drivers _ including Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman _ have secured victories.

“It’s awesome,” said Larson, who is in his first season with team-owner Rick Hendrick after being fired by Chip Ganassi Racing last year over a racial slur. “It really just shows how good their organization is. The people they’ve assembled at the race shop, all the men and women. All four of us could not be getting these wins without them.”

While Elliott failed to win his third straight Cup race at The Glen he didn’t lose his unofficial title of “King of the Roads.”

Elliott arrived at the track as a heavy favorite to win. He started the race, however, with those odds considerably lessened as he was forced to the rear of the 37-car field after his car failed pre-race inspection twice. He also started without crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was booted from the pit box as part of the NASCAR penalty.

But up through the field Elliott came _ a couple of times as an untimely pit stop to replace flat-spotted tires on Lap 31 killed his forward run during Stage 2. With nine laps to go, Elliott passed Truex on the track through the Bus Stop section for second place.

Post-race, Elliott refused to blame the penalty for his fate. He blamed himself.

“I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately,” said Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro. “I made it too late in the race. Kind of an uphill battle all day. I’ll try to clean some things up and make less mistakes next time and maybe it will work out.”

Elliott actually close on Larson during the final laps but wound up 2.430-seconds back of his teammate.

Over those final laps, both Larson and Elliott had to deal with a pack of lapped cars. Asked if he was worried that getting past those cars would allow Elliott to move even closer, Larson said yes.

“Chase was already catching me pretty quick,” Larson said, “even with me being on an open track. So when I caught those (lapped) cars, I got into the No. 38 (of Anthony Alfredo)…I thought I would look in my mirror and the No. 9 (of Elliott) would be right on me. But I think we had a comfortable enough gap where I could make a mistake like that.”

Truex, who won at The Glen in 2017, finished third. Truex, who led a race-best 34 laps in the No. 19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry, was attempting to win his fourth race of the season.

Kyle Busch of JGR finished fourth while teammate Denny Hamlin was fifth.

JGR’s Christopher Bell also was sent to the rear of the field for the start after failing pre-race inspection but immediately moved to the front. Bell was running second when his No. 20 STANLEY Toyota Camry was spun after contact with Larson on Lap 55. Bell finished seventh.

“I want to say a big apology to Christopher Bell,” Larson said. “I was inside but I wasn’t inside enough. I needed to have the nose a few feet further ahead. I ended up turning him. I hate that.”

The Cup Series will be back on a road circuit next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield course.

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 35th Annual Go Bowling at The Glen

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, New York

Sunday, August 8, 2021

  1. (4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90.
  2. (11)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 90.
  3. (9)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 90.
  4. (20)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90.
  5. (6)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.
  6. (15)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 90.
  7. (7)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 90.
  8. (5)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 90.
  9. (27)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 90.
  10. (13)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 90.
  11. (14)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 90.
  12. (12)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 90.
  13. (17)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 90.
  14. (3)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 90.
  15. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 90.
  16. (8)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.
  17. (24)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 90.
  18. (19)  Cole Custer, Ford, 90.
  19. (18)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 90.
  20. (10)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90.
  21. (25)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 90.
  22. (2)  Joey Logano, Ford, 90.
  23. (26)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 90.
  24. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 90.
  25. (28)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 89.
  26. (31)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 89.
  27. (22)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 89.
  28. (23)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 89.
  29. (30)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 89.
  30. (33)  Kyle Tilley, Ford, 89.
  31. (21)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 88.
  32. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 88.
  33. (34)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 88.
  34. (37)  RC Enerson, Chevrolet, 88.
  35. (1)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 87.
  36. (32)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 87.
  37. (36)  James Davison, Ford, Electrical, 41.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  101.031 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 10 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.430 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 6 laps.

Lead Changes:  7 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Keselowski 1-9;J. Logano 10-20;K. Larson 21;R. Stenhouse Jr. 22;M. Truex Jr. 23-56;D. Hamlin 57-62;K. Busch 63-64;K. Larson 65-90.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 34 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 27 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 11 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 9 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 6 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 2 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,5,11,8,24,18,48,9,3,43

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,20,4,5,14,42,21,11,22,18

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 8 2021
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