Kyle Larson won Saturday’s Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway, surviving a series of late restarts after Justin Allgaier dominated the day leading up to them.
It was the second series win of the season for Larson, a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver who participates only part time on the XFINITY side.
“We were not the best car at all,” Larson admitted to FOX Sports after climbing from his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane. “Justin was by far the best. … But we were good enough to stay in contention to win, so everyone from the pit crew to the guys at the shop did a great job.”
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With six laps to go Allgaier restarted in second in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet on the outside of the front row, after Ty Dillon took only two tires to gain the lead on the previous pit stop.
Allgaier did not get a great restart, but it appeared Dillon jumped it – and NASCAR subsequently agreed, penalizing Dillon for it after the field stacked up behind Allgaier, causing a multi-car wreck.
That gave the lead to Larson, with Allgaier again lining up on the outside of a front row for the green-white-checkered overtime finish.
Larson passed the overtime line just as another wreck unfolded behind him on the subsequent overtime restart, bringing out the caution and freezing the field with Larson just in front of Allgaier, who angrily confronted a NASCAR official on pit road after the race.
“Justin took off way better than I expected him to,” Larson admitted. “I was surprised I cleared him going into (Turn) 2 because I thought he would hang on my outside, if not pass me like he did to Austin (Dillon) earlier in the race. I was able to clear him, they threw the caution, and I got the overtime win.”
Allgaier still took home $100,000 in Dash 4 Chase bonus money by finishing second, but told FOX Sports: “It’s bittersweet. This one hurts and will hurt for a long time.”
While Allgaier thought he and Larson were racing back to the checkered flag, television replays clearly showed that Larson reached the overtime line in front of him at the time the caution flag flew, freezing the field with Allgaier in second.
Allgaier said he was upset not only about the final restart, but also about the one that Ty Dillon had jumped, which he said set up the end result.
“There were a couple of things that went down,” Allgaier told FOX Sports. “First of all, the restart that got jumped, that was super disappointing because we were the first car on four tires and obviously had been the fastest car up to that point and led a lot of laps. It’s frustrating when cars do that and go early — and that sets up restarting second on last restart.”
Of the duel with Larson at the finish, Allgaier added: “We were coming to the start-finish line and the white flag (signifying one lap to go) is waving and the yellow (caution) lights are on. So there’s a lot of confusion as to whether or not we were still racing. … It’s just really disappointing after having the kind of car we had all day long.
Allgaier had good reason to be frustrated, as he led the race-high total of 157 laps but did not get to celebrate in Victory Lane.
Larson led only eight laps in all.
Rounding out the top five behind Larson and Allgaier were Daniel Hemric, Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney. Dillon led 58 laps earlier in the race and Hemric, another Dash 4 Cash participant who started from the pole, led 26.