Kyle Larson outduels Austin Dillon for XFINITY win at HMS
Kyle Larson outdueled Austin Dillon to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, while Chris Buescher ran well enough to clinch his first XFINITY Series championship.
Afterward, Larson declined an opportunity to do a celebratory burnout and left the track to Buescher for that.
"This is championship week and it should be all about the champions," Larson said. "So congrats to Chris Buescher. It was time for him to celebrate. It always seemed odd to me when I would sit in the stands and see two cars doing burnouts. I wanted for Chris to have his moment and he worked hard all season long for it."
The 23-year-old Buescher won the title by finishing 11th Saturday in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, bringing home a fifth second-tier series crown for team owner Jack Roush.
Buescher was the last driver on the lead lap and finished 15.9 seconds behind Larson.
Larson had led most of the race early and cleared Austin Dillon for good with four laps left for his third career XFINITY win, after Dillon brushed the outside wall and left an opening while running the high line — which was Larson’s preferred line all afternoon.
Dillon, the 2013 series champion, was second, followed by Truck Series champ Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney.
Buescher needed to finish 13th or better without leading a lap to win the championship in Homestead. He also held off defending series champion Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith, all within striking distance of knocking off Buescher.
Dillon was seventh, Elliott was eighth and Smith ninth.
In 33 starts, Buescher posted wins at Iowa and Dover. He had 11 top-fives, and 20 top-10s.
Not as well-known as his closest three rivals, Buescher held the lead this season for 23 straight weeks. He denied Elliott’s bid to go back-to-back in his final full Xfinity season.
Elliott, the son of Hall of Fame inductee and 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, is taking over Jeff Gordon’s ride in the No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports next year. The team had to find a seat for him at NASCAR’s top level or risk losing the 19-year-old to another organization.
Buescher joined Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and two-time champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as series championship drivers for Roush.
Ford also wrapped up the manufacturer’s championship for the fifth time.
Larson and Kyle Busch dominated the majority of the race and seemed poised for a hard battle down the stretch.
But Busch’s team was first penalized for failing to control a tire on pit road and then, just one lap later, brushed the inside wall late in the race, crippling a late-push at the checkered flag on the same track where he’ll race for his first career Sprint Cup championship on Sunday.
Once hailed as the next big NASCAR star, Larson is winless in 74 career Cup starts and entered Homestead with two wins in 74 XFINITY starts.
"From the moment we unloaded from the truck, the car was amazing," Larson said. "I don’t know if we made any adjustments whatsoever to it. I knew we were going to be good in the race. We didn’t qualify that well, but as soon as the green flag dropped I was able to carve my way up to the front."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.